The paralyzed get back on their feet

FRESNO, Calif.

It's been featured on glee but it looks more like something you'd see in Robocop. For former cop Jean Altomari it's a bit of normalcy after a tragedy. Jean's dream job ended after an accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. Now she's literally taking steps toward recovery with the ReWalk, a motorized exoskeleton.

"It has motors that basically move your hips and knees and allows an individual who is paralyzed, usually from the waist down, to walk," said Alberto Esquenazi, M.D., director of the gait and motion laboratory at Moss Rehabilitation Center in Philadelphia.

Patients wear a computerized backpack that receives feedback from motion sensors at the joints. A remote control on the wrist "tells" the suit to stand up.

"It feels like I am standing up on my own power," Jean Altomari said.

ReWalk is then completely controlled by the patient's movements.

"You gently tilt your body forward and it takes steps for you," Dr. Esquenazi explained.

Jean believes ReWalk offers her a way to keep her bones and muscles strong until there's a cure for spinal cord injuries.

"When they come across it, your body is still in good enough shape to rebound," Jean said.

In the meantime she's still standing tall and moving forward with her life. The ReWalk is FDA approved for use in rehabilitation centers. A version of the ReWalk that could be used at home may be ready for trials sometime this year.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Judy Horwitz
Senior Communications Specialist
Albert Einstein Healthcare Network
(215) 456-6767
horwitzj@einstein.edu

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