Mark's Personal Mission
Spinal cord injury strikes at the very heart of what it means to be human. An evolutionary amputation completed in a moment, it turns people from their upright, walking, running, jumping forms into seated compromises of themselves. This is the reality for 2.5 million people globally suffering from spinal cord injury.
But Mark believes we can cure paralysis in our lifetime. To do it, he is exploring the intersection where humans and technology collide and catalysing collaborations that have never been done before.
Since 2011 Mark and his team have co-created projects valued at over €10 million involving: rehabilitation; robotics; exercise physiology; neuro modulation; neuroscience; bioengineering; and pharmacology.
And, Mark now knows that many of the world’s greatest scientists and technologists have discovered breakthroughs that have the potential to impact paralysed people’s lives in the next 5 years. Yet, the interventions are held hostage in the minds and labs of these spectacular researchers due to systemic failures in translating research from the lab to the clinic.
Milestones in Mark’s Personal Mission to Cure Paralysis
2020 – Created a research collaboration between Ekso Bionics and Houston Methodist Research Institute.
2019 – Launched an exoskeleton programme with academic, industry and philanthropic partners at Dublin City University to provide universal access to Ekso Bionics robotic legs for paralysed people, stroke patients, those with MS and other neurological conditions for a nominal fee.
2019 – Supported the expansion of GTX Medical to create a pathway to commercialising electrical stimulation devices.
2018 – Built a working relationship with scientists at the Feinstein Institute focused on Brain Computer Interfaces and Focal-Stimulation technology.
2018 – launched an Exoskeleton Access Programme at Dublin City University to provide universal access to Ekso Bionics robotic legs for paralysed people, stroke patients, those with MS and other neurological conditions.
2017 – Completed a 50-subject study of spinal cord excitability in Trinity College Dublin.
2016 – Launched a US-European Ekso Bionics robotics study with multiple subjects and industry involvement.
2015 – Created transatlantic research collaborations between Trinity College Dublin and UCLA.
2014 – Developed academic and industry research programmes with Microsoft, Imperial College London and University College London.
2013 – Created a first of its kind pilot study where Mark became the first person in the world with chronic complete paralysis to regain enough voluntary control to actively take steps in a robotic exoskeleton.
Mark measures his progress through: the breadth of engagement he and his team generate publicly; the quality of connections they create within the research community; and the improvement in efficiency they deliver with their partners.
Mark’s talk still resonates with our European Sales Team. He started a conversation about challenging conventional wisdom that is ongoing at Google. And with over 20 nationalities in the room he reached them all.
I was honored to meet with Mark Pollock in Ireland this year, where we engaged with teachers and students at St. Patrick’s College to discuss the ways technology is changing how students learn. Mark is an extreme adventurer and athlete who has raced to the South Pole — and even more incredibly, he was the first blind man to ever do so.
Mark is a brilliant example of the fact that we can always achieve more than what we think is possible.