Leeds paraplegics' clinic a first for Yorkshire
Prospects for spinal injury patients have been boosted by the opening in Leeds of the UK's first Ekso Centre
The centre's speciality is a robotic 'bionic' suit comprised of a battery-powered artificial skeleton. The 'exoskeleton
' is designed to energise paralysed muscles, allowing paraplegics to stand and walk
under clinical supervision.
The Ekso Centre
is located at Technology in Motion
, a specialist clinic in Whinmoor, and will focus on both private treatment and research.
Among the first to benefit from Ekso is David Follett, 22, an incomplete tetraplegic. The Exeter man was hospitalised for 7 months after a car accident, since when rehabilitation has helped him develop skills in wheelchair badminton.
"It is such a great feeling to walk again, virtually by myself, it feels really natural," said Mr Follett.
Another beneficiary of Ekso, 43-year-old Andrew Glenie from Kent, suffered a spinal cord injury
in 1993 during a sidecar racing accident. Mr Glenie said his posture has been improved by the suit.
Andy Hayes, MD of Ekso Bionics in Europe, said: "This is very new and exciting technology."
For a patient to use Ekso, a physician will need to confirm that all leg joints have a good range of motion, upper body strength is reasonable and that the patient has sitting balance and can transfer from a wheelchair to other surfaces.