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Robotic suit allows spinal cord patients to move on their own

Many U.S. doctors, including those in Connecticut, have devoted their time and knowledge to discover treatments, medications or devices that can help patients with spinal cord injuries. Various approaches have been introduced from prosthetic implants to stem cells. A recently introduced futuristic breakthrough may allow something all spinal cord injury patients want, to walk again.

One hospital in central Texas recently introduced a noninvasive clinical trial of a device that may allow patients to walk. Called the ReWalk rehabilitation system, a patient is place inside a 44-pound robotic suit that uses motor-driven parts to help the patient learn to walk again, albeit slowly at first. The device can detect shifts within a patient's sense of balance, permitting the user to move his or her legs in a natural way. One 25-year-old patient who recently used the system was thankful for the robotic suit. He said he could now stand up and walk using the device.

An expert pointed out that the robotic system may strengthen arms and legs and could be stimulating nerve pathways that can offer some improvements. Although the robotic device has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it is being used for clinical trials around the country.

Someone suffering a spinal cord injury may experience permanent disability that requires long-term medical care and rehabilitation. Most spinal cord injury research needs further studies and testing, but this new device may provide hope that patients could one day recover from a life-altering injury.

Unfortunately, these new kinds of medical treatments, not to mention standard ongoing medical care, can be costly for a spinal cord injury victim. If a spinal cord injury was the result of negligence on the part of another individual, however, the victim can and should pursue compensation from the negligent party.

Source: KVUE, "Robotic suit helps spinal cord injury patients walk," Jim Bergamo, Jan. 20, 2014

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