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Spinal cord injury patients walk again with bionic legs

Anyone who has suffered a spinal cord injury knows that in a split second your life can be changed forever.

The human body is extremely complex, and once damaged, the spinal cord does not heal. Individuals who suffer spinal cord injuries -- whether in car accidents, sports, or workplace accidents -- are often left permanently disabled.

However, the good news is that science has come a long way over the past few decades, and is giving hope to many people who have lost the ability to walk. 

Bionic exoskeletons, which were once only seen in the movies, have been developed and allowed 3,500 patients with spinal cord or stoke injuries to walk more than 15 million steps, Live Science reported last week.

The bionic legs operate using a system produced by the California-based company Ekso Bionics, which has been working on the project for more than 10 years.

The new device, called the Ekso, sends power to either leg in response to the user’s strength. The device can not only allow some spinal cord injury patients to walk again, it can also help them avoid the negative toll sitting in a chair all day has on the body.

At this point, the devices are far too expensive for consumer use, but it is possible that within a few years similar devices could be available for purchase. Of course, they would still come with a hefty price tag, as most special devices for spinal cord injury patients do.

For that reason, spinal cord injury patients often depend on the damages awarded in personal injury lawsuits to help cover the expenses associated with their injuries. Spinal cord injury patients may be entitled to damages when their injury was the result of negligence.

Source: Live Science, “Exoskeleton Helps Spinal Cord Injury Patient Walk,” Tia Ghose, Jan. 8, 2015

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