(BPT) – At 32 years of age, Jessica ‘Jess’ McNair experienced what doctors described as ‘cascades of multiple strokes’ resulting from irregularly formed arteries in her neck. With a bleak prognosis, McNair’s team of doctors predicted she had a 5 percent chance of living, and that it would be unlikely she would regain the ability to walk, talk or care for herself.
An estimated 15 million people around the world will experience a stroke each year, with more than 60 percent of survivors finding themselves unable to walk. A separate 500,000 individuals acquire spinal cord injuries that also leave them paralyzed. For McNair and fellow stroke and spinal cord injury survivors, this means a long and discouraging road to recovery with grueling and extensive physical therapy sessions. For many, they begin to think that they will never walk or stand again and will remain dependent upon a caregiver for support.
However, the advancements of robotic exoskeleton technologies can help survivors, like McNair, get back on their feet sooner. In fact, the first FDA-cleared exoskeleton for stroke and spinal cord injury rehabilitation, the EksoGT™, is being used worldwide by more than 260 leading rehabilitation centers in over 30 countries and has allowed stroke and spinal cord injury patients to take over 100 million steps to date. These innovative centers have helped their patients walk 50,000 miles in the EksoGT exoskeleton – the distance of walking around the world twice.
Centers utilizing the EksoGT are advancing both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, and collectively changing the standard of care to promote better patient outcomes. As the most widely used exoskeleton in rehab, the EksoGT is designed to help patients get back on their feet by supporting the re-learning of correct step patterns, weight shifting and potentially mitigating compensatory behaviors, enabling patients to mobilize earlier and restore independence. For patients who never thought they would walk or even stand again, the device also offers hope. Clinical evidence shows that including the EksoGT gait training during rehabilitation can improve patient gait speed and walking distance outside of the device at discharge compared to admission and may improve independence in functional mobility during inpatient stroke rehabilitation.
Early adopters of the state-of-the-art exoskeleton technology dedicated to establishing exoskeletons as a standard of care in rehabilitation, known as Centers of Excellence, include Barrow Neurological Institute (Phoenix, Arizona), DHR Rehabilitation Hospital (Edinburg, Texas), Good Shepherd Rehabilitation (Allentown, Pennsylvania), Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, part of Northwestern Medicine (Wheaton, Illinois), Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital (Schenectady, New York), and Villa Beretta Centro di Riabilitazione (Costa Masnaga, Italy). To find a leading rehabilitation center near you, visit https://eksobionics.com/centers/.