With Technology, Even a Spinal Cord Injury Can’t Keep You from Walking
Our Michigan law firm specializes in personal injury claims. As a result, we see more than our share of clients with a spinal cord injury. Often, these individuals’ ability to use their limbs has been severely impaired or outright lost. In the past, attorneys in our position were faced with the reality that regardless of the size of the jury verdicts or settlements we obtained for our clients, no amount of money could give the client the use of their limbs. But that reality is slowly changing due to rapid scientific progress. For example, we previously blogged about experimental stem-cell therapies that show the potential for returning some function to individuals suffering from a complete spinal cord injury (see New Promise For Spinal Cord Injury Victims).
Another exciting example comes from a company by the name of Parker Hannifin Corporation (“Parker”). Parker is developing a new “exoskeleton” called “Indego.” Indego is a device that attaches to the waist and allows individuals to stand and walk. Indego is basically a “robot” you wear. The device supports the person’s weight, allowing them to walk for hours without fatiguing. The degree to which the device assists the individual can be increased or decreased depending on the individuals’ needs. For those with little or no leg control, the device can provide all the mechanical power. For those with some function, the device can be dialed down. The device also incorporates functional electrical stimulation into its design. Functional electrical stimulation applies small electrical pulses to muscles and has been proven to increase the strength in the legs of those with incomplete paraplegia and improve circulation, prevent loss of bone density, and reduce muscle atrophy in those with complete paraplegia. Indego is scheduled for commercial release in 2014.
Parker insists that Indego is just the beginning and that new breakthroughs are sure to follow.