A year in robotic legs – starting the analysis

This time last year I took my first few faltering steps in a revolutionary new set of robotic legs from ekso bionics.

I wrote a blog the day after that first experience and said: “I was scared. Not of the walking or chances of falling. Rather I was scared that my blindness would stop me from being part of something that I believe is one of my best chances of walking again.”

Twleve months on, the blindness and paralysis remain but the fear has gone. Today, I completed 2196 steps in 60 minutes. And the encouraging thing is that I’m disappointed that I didn’t make it to 2,200 steps. I’m not scared anymore, just keen to continue exploring the boundaries of what is possible.

My South Pole team-mate, Simon, is now my lead trainer and we are setting and beating our goals. I’m walking faster and further in less and less time. It feels easier and I hope it looks more like normal walking.

You be the judge – here’s the most recent video of me walking.

We’re making progress and as part of my training we’re recording everything that I do during each session. The machine captures data – the number of steps, walk time, stand time, the temperature of motors at my hips and knees – which is transfered back to the factory in San Francisco in real time via a wireless connection. The physio from ekso bionics europe travels to visit us to carry out a series of standard tests each month.

All of this is designed to improve the system and understand the impact that walking has on the body and mind of a paralysed person. From a personal perspective I’ve noticed two big positives with ekso. I just feel better every time i walk and that psychological lift is positive in itself. Physically there is a clear impact. After each session the small spasms that I get in my legs disappear and the dull pain in my back lifts.

In short, I feel both mentally and physically better after walking every time. I now need a few scientists to tell me what is happening inside my body. Anyone interested?!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2xWJMiAMrM]


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