Ekso Exoskeleton at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan is helping patients with spinal cord injury take steps toward rehabilitation.
In 2009, Scott was a high school senior. He was a football player for three years, and also a wrestler.
After working out one day, he suffered back pain, and went to bed. The next day, he awoke with a loss of sensation in his legs, and over the next two weeks, lost the ability to walk and feel below the waist.
Scott was diagnosed with a cavernous hemangioma in the middle of his back. It spontaneously burst, damaging his spinal cord in the same way an accident or trauma would.
After his paralysis, Scott’s dreams of playing college football were dashed. But with the help of family and friends, he’s been able to keep a positive attitude and has actively sought out the best care possible.
“I spent some time at a California spinal cord facility. When I came back home to Toledo, I did a Google search and looked for spinal cord injury facilities in this area, and found the DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.”
Phuong Vu, senior physical therapist at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, has been working wityh Scott, using cutting-edge technology called the EKSO: a robotic exoskeleton that allows wheelchair users to stand and walk. This robotic suit can be used for those who have had a recent spinal cord injury, or an injury that happened many years ago. With Phuong’s help, Scott has set goals for his recovery.
“He wants to try and get any type of motor function back in his lower extremities without the use of any type of bracing, which are the knee, ankle and foot orthoses that basically lock out your knees and don’t allow for any type of motor return,” says Phuong. “This is the best option for Scott because we use it for neuromuscular reeducation. So we have him focusing on taking steps as naturally as possible; getting his hip flexors to turn on, trying to think about getting the quads, the hamstrings to fire at the exact time it would normally be doing during a step.”
Ekso allows for all that because Ekso takes the step, bends the hips, bends the knees, and then plants the foot just as you would in a normal gait.
“It’s amazing,” says Phuong. In the past, the patient really relied on the therapists and clinicians to hold them up and reproduce the steps. It was labor-intensive on everyone, especially the patient.”
Scott has been working with Ekso Exoskeleton for over a year, and improved from walking with a walker to walking with crutches – a giant movement forward.
Phuong and her fellow therapy experts describe the Ekso Exoskeleton as “the future – here, today, at DMC.”
To learn more about the Ekso Exoskeleton, or to schedule an appointment at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, call 313-745-9932.