Ekso bionic suit offers Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital patients another chance
Mary Beth Davis has hope for her future, something she said she hasn't had in a while.
In August, Davis, will don an Ekso bionic suit and walk for the first time in nearly two years.
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Oklahoma City's Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital will become one of 14 facilities in the world to offer Ekso, a wearable robot, to patients. Davis, 22, will train on the device at the facility.
“It's our goal to have the best spinal cord program in this part of the state,” said Dr. Al Moorad, medical director of Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital. “If we want the best facility, we have to have the best equipment.”
The suit is for patients with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness.
Davis, a native of Guthrie and a senior at Oklahoma State University, was paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident in 2010. She's been in a wheelchair since.
She was able to see the suit in action for the first time Wednesday, when Ekso Bionics ambassador Sarah Anderson demonstrated the suit for physical therapists and patients at the hospital.
“It's pretty cool in person,” Davis said. “Getting to walk around freely is a big deal.”
Anderson has been an ambassador for Ekso Bionics since March 2011.
Nine years ago, Anderson, 31, was struck by a drunken driver and paralyzed from the waist down.
She said she lost all hope and had nothing to look forward to — until she walked for the first time with Ekso.
“It takes the impossible and makes it possible,” said Anderson, of San Francisco. “It was the most life-changing thing for me.”
The suit resembles a robot, with straps that wrap around the knees and feet. It also straps around a patient's waist and has a computer strapped to the back, like a backpack. The patient also operates a set of crutches.