Rehabing with a robot
BOSTON, Mass. – Martha Burger was a super mom, active both with her kids and at the gym
"I was doing insanity classes with a couple of friends at the ‘Y'. And I was also gearing myself up to try to run a five-mile run in town that we have every year," Burger said.
Until one afternoon, when she became dizzy and noticed her fingers were numb. She chalked it up to her intense workouts, but later that night she collapsed from a stroke.
"I just remember my son who was five, was just screaming mommy get up, mommy get up," Burger explained. "I could not move at all. I've got a little bit back since then with a lot of hard work, a lot of therapy," therapy that included the use of this bionic suit.
The exoskeleton known as EKSO combined with physical therapy is helping Martha reach her goal of walking on her own again.
Sensors in the suit detect when users shift their weight forward which triggers the device to step.
Melissa Pullia, Physical Therapist for EKSO Bionics in Boston explained, "We can program the robot to give her time to think about it, rather than the robot just doing it herself."
Burger said, "When I got in, it was like, oh my gosh what is this thing?"
In seven months Burger went from 200 to 1,000 steps per session.
"We want to get our patients up. We want to get them moving. We want to optimize everything that they have, but we also want to do it quickly and in an efficient amount of time, and using this device helps us do that," Pullia explained.
"It really helped me a lot," Burger added.
She says eventually she hopes these steps will all be on her own.
The exoskeleton is also helping wounded veterans stand up again even decades later. Twenty states currently offer therapy, including Florida. And the machines aren't just being used in rehab centers. Another exoskeleton maker called "Re-walk" now has an at home version for patients for around $70,000.
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