Mary Free Bed has a way to help people with spinal cord injuries regain their abilities to walk again, and they gave us an inside look at the technology.
Indego is a what Mary Free Bed calls a powered orthosis, or exoskeleton, that's worn around the waist and legs to allow someone with limited mobility to stand and walk.
It was invented at Vanderbilt University in Nashville with help from researchers at the Shepard Center in Atlanta -- eventually making its way to Grand Rapids, where it is helping 25-year-old Brittany Yeomans.
Yeomans is an Allendale-native who was injured in a May 2013 motorcycle accident. She sustained a spinal cord injury, broken ribs, a punctured leg and a fractured scapula. After recovering at an acute care hospital, Yeomans spent four months as an impatient at Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation.
She recently came back to Mary Free Bed for outpatient therapy and a chance to train with Indego.
Indego is lightweight, easy to set-up and wireless -- a mobile device app controls operations, changes settings and captures data. Various factors, such as severity of injury, may influence learning time, clinicians have previous recorded an average of 45 minutes of learning time from the moment a patient puts on Indego until they take their first steps.
According to Parker Hannifin Corporation, who further developed the technology, Indego is not designed to replace a wheelchair but offer an additional option -- its design allows a patient to wear it while sitting in a wheelchair or to use crutches or a walker.
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