If you are not a paraplegic can you imagine being unable to walk and, suddenly, being given an opportunity to walk again, climb stairs, look a loved one straight in the eye.
Robotic legs may look like something right out of a science fiction movie, but they're real making a difference for those who need them like Stephen Wilson.
In 2007, Wilson was in a wreck so bad he's lucky to be alive. He was rendered a paraplegic. He couldn't walk. Now, he's walking with the help of robotic legs from ReWalk Robotics. Until recently, these computerized machines were only used in physical therapy centers like Precision Therapy in Long Beach. Now, the FDA has approved them for personal use with spinal chord injuries like Stephen Wilson's.
Wilson says "Its not as easy as it was to walk as before my injury, but walking around it's not too tiring as long as the terrain is pretty flat and smooth." Phil Astrachan is with ReWalk. Of the robotic walking suit he says, "It's designed to restore the function a spinal chord patient has lost. There's a tilt sensor that's on the pelvis of the torso and basically just like a tilt sensor in your iPhone. It's going to react to little changes in motion. So, every time a person shifts their weight from one foot to the next foot the tilt sensor senses it. It tells the foot to move forward."
Wilson says, it's not always easy and "sometimes we're battling each other. It's a little bit of a struggle. It's a long road ahead to overcome a spinal cord injury. it's not easy. That's just part of the struggle to walk again."
The cost of the device is $69,500. Right now, insurance does not cover, but ReWalk says it's working with insurance companies to try and change that. And, they say, the benefits are worth the price. Astrachan says a patient can experience better circulation, improved pain management and, of course, the ability to walk.