Exoskeleton offers paralyzed veterans options to walk

Exoskeleton offers paralyzed veterans options to walk

Suffering from a spine injury while in Iraq, Retired CW5 Gary Linfoot will be at the Veterans Innovation Summit for Investing and Technology (VISIT) next week to demonstrate his use of an exoskeleton.  The device enables him to walk, something thought impossible when he was first injured.

Fox News reported that the event is geared towards individuals, organizations and industries interested in the rehabilitation and recovery of military veterans through break-through technology and medical advances.

While Linfoot still has to rely on the assistance of canes when he walks, he feels emerging technology will someday make these tools unnecessary.

He has demonstrated his use of the exoskeleton on different occasions.  Last Veterans Day, Fox News also reported he walked during a press conference at the Statue of Liberty.  Before that, Linfoot had walked with the device at the 2012 American Airlines’ Skyball convention.

“From the time I was injured I knew there would be something else.  I had no idea what that would be,” said Linfoot.  “At the same time I guess I always knew that one day I would walk again.  I never expected it to be this early, though.”

“A new generation of bionics is restoring touch and natural movement to those who have lost a limb, transforming the lives of more than 2,000 injured veterans since 2000,” said Marlee Dippolito, a spokeswoman for the Infinite Hero Foundation.  The organization is sponsoring the VISIT event and helped fund the exoskeleton for Linfoot.

The exoskeleton was manufactured by Ekso Bionics of California and was partially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.  The co-founder, Russ Arnold, of Ekso will be in attendance at the event.

“Gary will speak to his progress and how the suit is helping him re-imagine his recovery by restoring touch and natural movement.  It is going to be a very special moment, we expect,” Dippolito said.

She said that Linfoot has taken over 150,000 steps with the assistance of his exoskeleton.  This has enabled developers and researchers to collect data that will help advance the technology for future users.

Last November during his walk that occurred on Veterans Day, Linfoot said, “It is among the greatest honors of my life to receive the first Ekso device.  To have a chance to walk again, to see my wife Mari eye-to-eye, and hug my children heart-to-heart is a feeling I cannot begin to explain.  I’m thrilled to act as an ambassador to expand the use of this technology in the hopes to one day grant the same life-changing experience to other wounded veterans.”

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