Device helps wheelchair-bound vets walk again

By  | 

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. A set of feet, legs and hips, all bionic, and all connected to one another. It is a machine called an exoskeleton.

"I think that there are a number of people who are definitely excited to use it," said Jenny Kiratli, Director of Clinical Research within the Spinal Cord Injury Center at the Palo Alto VA Hospital. "It allows people with spinal cord injuries to be out of their wheel chair and standing and ambulating."

Kirtali and her colleagues were at the Reno VA Hospital Wednesday, sharing their research into the exoskeleton system.

"There are so many ways that the people we are working with and have been using this device," said Kirtali, who believes it is about far more than getting up and walking around. “This device allows people with spinal cord injuries to be out of their wheelchair and active in the home and the community… to do a variety of things.”

According to research being done at the VA, getting patients up and moving has a positive impacts on both mental and physical health.

The device can be prescribed for people with spinal cord injuries T-6 and below. It essentially recreates the motion of walking even though the user has no use of their lower extremities.