Sargent Roosevelt J. Anderson faced severe injury to his spinal cord after a motorcycle accident which left his legs paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, but he is now one of the first patients in the world to be able to walk again with the assistance of an exoskeleton. This incredible exoskeleton machine is called the ReWalk.
The ReWalk is a wearable, robotic device that straps to the patients body and it powers the hips, knees, and legs to move. It may appear to be a walking exercise, but it can be a grueling task. The exoskeleton weighs about 50 pounds, so Sgt. Anderson walks carefully when he wears it.
“It took about three weeks to a month before I was completely comfortable in the device,” says Anderson. The ReWalk can take up to months, even years, of training to master.
Dr. Arun Jayaraman, PhD, Rehabilitation of Institute of Chicago (RIC) researcher says, “When you and I walk, we can feel the floor and feel the ground. But when you can’t feel anything below your limbs, and you’re depending on a robot to move it, it’s very important that he is in sync with it. The device on this side has an angle sensor and it’s tilt sensor just above his waist. So when RJ is standing it looks for a certain tilt angle which we can preset and once it tilts it triggers the device. He needs to be in this rhythmic movement. So it takes many training sessions to get the sync.”
“There are days you put in some hard work and you go home and you have to nap because you’re that tired. But that;s what I wanted. That’s what I signed up for,” said Anderson. “I broke my neck at the C7 vertebrae and also my spine at the T4-T5 vertebrae. At that time I was told I would never walk again. And technically I couldn’t use my arms either.”
Sgt. Anderson was apart of the elite special operations training and he always pushed himself and still does the same with his rehabilitation. After only a year of working with the ReWalk, Anderson was able to walk out of RIC with the device, making him the first patient in Chicago to talk one home for personal use.
The ReWalk cost about $70,000 dollars, which was covered by an anonymous donor. The ReWalk device is currently FDA approved, but not yet covered by insurance.
Anderson has much hope for the future, “I see myself absolutely strapping in it every day, at least for an hour a day, at least. I would like to get proficient in the device and be able to use it proficiently in the community, walk maybe to the store with it. To be able to stand at home, reach things in the cabinets, possibly cook, just being back on my feet. The idea of that is amazing.”
The Archuleta Law Firm handles injury, death, and veterans medical malpractice claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. We handle claims in all 50 States and Worldwide. Our focus is helping Veterans, and the families of Veterans and Military Service Members in their claims involving Veterans (VA) Hospitals, Doctors and Clinics and Military Hospitals, Doctors and Clinics. We handle claims involving the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force.