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The last day Dan Webb could walk on his own was October 4, 2010, when he fell out of a tree on a hunting trip and landed flat on his back. “I knew instantly,” the 42-year-old from Warminster says. He’d suffered a burst fracture of his T9 vertebra and was paralyzed from the waist down.
Webb spent two weeks in the hospital before beginning rehab. He’d heard about a new therapy machine at MossRehab called ReWalk, a robotic device that gives paraplegics the ability to walk upright. Tiny sensors pick up subtle movements in the user’s body and send signals to motors in the hip and knee. A slight lean forward means you want to move; the legs take a step. By getting patients moving, ReWalk helps them retain bone mass, alleviates pressure sores, and reduces muscle spasticity.
Moss physiatrist Alberto Esquenazi helped develop the technology with engineers in Israel. To date, fewer than 100 people around the world have used a ReWalk; Moss is one of a handful of institutions to have one.
Today, with almost 40 ReWalk sessions under his belt, Webb’s a natural, though he says the machine took some getting used to: “It’s like when you golf and your wrist turns just so and everything goes wrong. It takes concentration.” Right now, ReWalk is only available for use in hospitals, but the manufacturer is working on a model for patients to use at home. The institutional version costs around $85,000; the personal one will cost significantly less.
Webb plans to be one of the first ReWalk owners. “There aren’t too many spinal patients who can get up and walk,” he says. “As long as I’m doing the ReWalk, I won’t give up on my legs.”
Full article here from Philadelphia Magazine.