“Bionic Man” is what many are calling a British student who is walking again thanks to a revolutionary bionic exoskeleton suit. Twenty-two year old David Follett was paralyzed after suffering a spinal cord injury (SCI) to his neck following an accident in which he was hit by a car as he strolled along Exmouth seafront in Devon on April 18, 2007. According to a recent article, the bionic exoskeleton allows wheelchair users to walk under clinical supervision. The report adds that the suit is, “…strapped on over the user’s clothes and uses battery powered motors to lift people from the sitting position and mechanically move their legs. Velcro straps secure it safely to the user, over their clothing and shoes.”
After the accident, David was diagnosed as an incomplete tetraplegic and became an ideal candidate to test pilot the exoskeleton thanks to his fitness and enthusiasm. His determination paid off as he was one of only 3 candidates chosen to test the prototype. Even more astounding, the newly minted ‘Bionic Man’ has been selected to be an Olympic torch carrier for Britain in May.
While David’s new ability to walk with the assistance of robotic legs is not exactly an everyday option for many individuals with spinal cord injuries, the ailment itself unfortunately does occur with regularity. Common kinds of spinal cord injuries and issues include contusion (spinal bruising), compression (pressure on the spine), quadriplegia, paraplegia, spinal fractures, a broken back, a herniated disk, paralysis, and fractured vertebra. In addition, some of the effects that can result from a spinal cord injury are respiratory problems, bedsores, severe depression, loss of ability to function sexually, loss of bladder control, loss of bowel control, and emotional trauma. Common tasks, such as getting out of bed or walking across the room can become extremely painful—even impossible—when you have a spinal cord injury. It can be especially traumatic to have your injury occur in an accident that was someone else’s fault.
A spinal cord injury occurs when the damage to the spine is so severe that the injured person experiences the loss of physical movement or sensation. There are at least 11,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries in the United States each year. Many of these SCIs are caused by car accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, pedestrian accidents, sports-related accidents, and other kinds of personal injury accidents.
Moreover, recovery from a spinal cord injury may take months or years and can be costly. While many people with a spinal injury can recover after a period of proper treatment and therapy, there are those who may never recover, are forever confined to a wheelchair or bed, and whose medical care must continue for life. However, David’s example offers a ray of hope for many of these wheelchair-bound individuals.
Robotic research is not the only source of hope for those with SCI. Additionally, The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts spinal cord research in its laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also supports additional research through grants to major research institutions across the country. Advances in basic and clinical research continue to work toward repairing injured spinal cords, and understanding the kinds of physical rehabilitation that work best to restore function.
A personal injury law firm that understands the nature of spinal cord injuries and the complexities of SCI cases can help you (even if you do not aspire to be a Bionic Man or Woman) demand the maximum recovery possible from any liable parties so that you can afford to get the care that you need.
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