For many individuals who suffer a catastrophic injury or debilitating disease that results in paralysis, the prognosis for returning function to their legs can be a dim one. However, recent advances in technology and medicine have seen some innovative applications that are helping some patients walk once again, which could give hope to those who have suffered from medical malpractice injuries.
It is well known that using assisted motion to maintain muscle tone and restore muscle memory has helped some individuals return to normal function after an accident or injury. One option found in some rehab facilities is the ReWalk system, which combines an exoskeleton, robotics and motors mounted at the hip and knee to help patients walk on their own.
Finding mobility during rehab
The ReWalk takes up where physical therapists and other traditional devices leave off by providing support and movement for the lower half of the body. After some practice, a wheelchair bound patient is able to stand and walk across the room with only the assistance of crutches.
Promotes overall improved health
Not only do robotic devices like the ReWalk allow greater mobility and function for their users, some research has shown that paralyzed patients have experienced improved function in their lower digestive tract as well. By allowing the body to support itself more naturally, breathing, heart, and blood circulation all benefit from using devices that allow the patient to stand.
Costs remain prohibitive for many
Of course with all new technology, the price tag on these units remains out of reach for most patients to use at home or work. Insurance companies generally refuse to cover these devices as their therapeutic value has not yet been fully determined.
At $70,000 to $100,000 per unit, the ReWalk offers a glimpse of better things to come for those facing limited mobility. Hopefully, as their use becomes more widespread throughout rehab facilities, the costs will come down and more patients will have use of them in their everyday lives.