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Friday, March 9, 2012

Getting Paraplegics Back On Their Feet

Tamara Mena testing the Esko Bionics Exoskeleton. (Photo Courtesy of Tamara Mena)

Ekso Bionics, a company in Berkeley California, is developing an exoskeleton that can help paraplegics stand and walk. Tamara Mena is one of the test pilots of the device, she has been in a wheelchair ever since being in a car accident six years ago.

Mena tells Here & Now‘s Robin Young that seeing her knee bend for the first time in over five years was as incredible as being able to stand and hug her loved ones.

“I almost, to be honest with you, had forgot how good it felt to hug someone while standing,” Mena says.

But as Eliza Strickland, who reports the story for IEEE magazine, pointed out, there are still issues to be worked out.

For example, right now, the exoskeleton needs someone other than the user to signal each step. The device is selling for about $100,000.

Guest:

  • Tamara Mena, tested the new exoskeleton
  • Eliza Strickland, reporter for IEEE Spectrum

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