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Standing Tall: Tech To Help Paralyzed People Walk Again
May 9, 2012
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Thanks to new advances in technology, some people who have been paralyzed are able to walk again. A video that's making the rounds today is one example: it features an inspiring moment for one U.K. woman. After 16 days, Claire Lomas finished the London Marathon yesterday, even though she is paralyzed from the chest down following a horse riding accident in 2007.

Claire's Marathon

Claire joined 36,000 other people who set off on April 22 in London, England to run the marathon, and crossed the finish line yesterday. Claire managed the feat using a bionic ReWalk suit, an apparatus that allows her to walk under her own power. Through her walk, she raised over C$129,270 for Spinal Research, a charity that funds medical research around the world into reliable treatments for paralysis caused by a broken back or neck.

TEK Mobility Device

It doesn't exactly allow users to "walk", but the TEK Robotic Mobilization Device does help paralyzed people become independent without a bulky wheelchair. In the video above, Yusuf Akturkoglu demonstrates the device in action. Like Claire, Yusuf was injured after falling from a horse five years ago, and the TEK device allows him to get out of bed and go about his day on his own, navigating most situations as he would on foot.

The device is currently on the market in Turkey, and the company that manufactures it is looking for distributors in the U.S. and Europe, where it's expected to cost about $15,000.

Helping Stroke Patients Walk Again

The Lower-Extremity Powered ExoSkeleton, or LOPES, is a prototype device developed by engineers at the University of Twente in Enschede in the Netherlands to help stroke victims recover their ability to walk. Some stroke victims lose control of the signals to the brain that allow them to operate their legs as they once did.

LOPES helps them recover that ability by reminding their limbs - and by extension, their brains - how to move normally. The device can do all the walking for the patient, or offer targeted support to a specific leg or element of the walking process. Over time, Dr. Edwin van Assledonk, who is working on the project, hopes that the machine will help patients develop the brain signals required to drive improved movement.

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