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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Exoskeletons and the role they are playing in both the rehabilitative care and home life of people living with paralysis became an important emerging technology in 2014.  Several Exoskeleton walking devices are coming to market for people with paralysis. These are battery powered bionic legs with small motors on the joints.

Download the factsheet (PDF).

In June 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the ReWalk Personal System for use in the home and in the community. It is the first exoskeleton device to be approved by the FDA. According to the company, the system: "Provides user-initiated mobility through the integration of a wearable brace support, a computer-based control system and motion sensors."  ReWalk affords people living with paraplegia with the opportunity to both stand and walk independently, but the cost could be prohibitive for some -- a recent Slate article claimed the price of owning one of these devices is close to $70,000. ReWalk comes from Israel and Europe.

ReWalk Personal System

Ekso Bionics is currently testing its robotic exoskeletons at rehabilitation centers around the globe. According to the company, the device is intended for supervised use in a clinical setting by individuals with various levels of paralysis. Ekso's most recently-reported findings, from September 2012, were culled from a clinical trial of 13 individuals, 12 with paraplegia, and one with tetraplegia. The study found that walking and standing in Ekso's device was feasible, and that improvements in function were made by training with the device: Walking speed and distance, fluidity, gait, and balance all got better, the company says. Ekso Robotic Exoskeletons are not currently approved for personal use in the United States.  

Ekso Bionics

The Parker Indego is a "powered lower limb orthosis enabling people with mobility impairments to walk and participate in over-ground gait training." The Indego is still in early phases of clinical testing. The Indego devices are not currently approved for personal use in the U.S.

In July 2014, the company tested the device at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia -- it was the first time that it had ever been used by an individual living with quadriplegia -- Cole Sydnor. READ MORE.

The Indego

The Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL), developed by Japanese robot maker Cyberdyne, is moving through the medical device approval processes.

The companies suggest exoskeleton devices will do more than give users eye-to-eye contact with others. Health benefits may include better bone density and reduced pain. There is anecdotal evidence that robotic walking helps bowel and bladder function.

Hybrid Assistive Limb

Source: Paralysis Resource Guide 2013

Download the factsheet (PDF).

Online Resources

Ekso Bionics
1414 Harbour Way South, Suite 1201
Richmond, CA 94804
Phone: 510-984-1761
Email: CustomerRelations@eksobionics.com

Cyberdyne's Hybrid Assistive Limb
2-2-1, Gakuen-Minami, Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, 305-0818, Japan
An online contact form may be found here.

Parker Hannifin's Indego
Phone: 800-272-7537
Email: c-parker@parker.com

ReWalk (US office)
33 Locke Ave., Suite 204
Marlborough, MA01752
Phone: 508-251-1154
Email: contact@rewalk.com

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Arkansas Spinal Cord CommissionThe mission of the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission is to administer a statewide program to identify and meet the unique and lifelong needs of people with spinal cord disabilities in the state.

CareCure CommunityCareCure Community features a SpinalNurse bulletin board with informed comments on matters of the bowel, and all issues of paralysis.

Canadian & American Spinal Research OrganizationPromotes and supports funding research to ultimately find a cure for paralysis. Also publishes journal of latest research they fund. Call (800) 361-4004 or use the link above.

Canadian Paraplegic AssociationAssists people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities to achieve individuality, self-reliance and full community participation. Call (613) 723-1033 or use the link above.

Craig HospitalWith funding from the US Department of Education's National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research, has developed educational materials to help people with spinal cord injuries live in the community maintain their health. Topics include skin care, exercise, heart disease, weight control, alcohol abuse and conditions related to the aging body. Use the link above and click on SCI Health and Wellness.

Determined 2 HealProvides helpful information for the newly spinal cord injured.

FacingDisability.comFacing Disability is a web resource with more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of people with spinal cord injuries, their families, caregivers and experts. I know that this is a lot to ask, but we'd be so grateful for your help. I'm looking forward to discussing this link with you, and to answering any questions you may have.

Model Systems CentersA federally funded program of 14 specialty medical and/or rehabilitation centers across the US. The SCI Care System collects and submits acute, rehabilitation and follow-up (annual, long-term post-discharge) data on SCI patients who received care in the these centers following injury.

The Miami Project to Cure ParalysisThe Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has studied functional electrical systems for exercise.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC)NSCISC supervises and directs the collection, management and analysis of the world's largest spinal cord injury database. Headquartered at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA)At NSCIA, we educate and empower survivors of spinal cord injury and disease to achieve and maintain the highest levels of independence, health and personal fulfillment. We fulfill this mission by providing an innovative Peer Support Network and by raising awareness about spinal cord injury and disease through education.

New York Online Access to Health (N.O.A.H)Offers information and links related to spinal cord and head injury treatment, rehabilitation, and children. Materials in Spanish.

Neuroscience for KidsOffers an understandable look at the segments of the spinal cord; from University of Washington.

Paralyzed Veterans of America, in support of The Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine, offers authoritative clinical practice guidelines for bladder management. Consumer guides are available to download.

SpineUniverseAt SpineUniverse our goal is to help patients and their families understand their back or neck problems. In clear, straightforward language we aim to explain what causes spinal problems and how they can be treated. We are committed to ensure that all of the information we present is trustworthy and of the highest quality.

Spinal Cord Injury Information NetworkThe Spinal Cord Injury Information Center features clinical information about bowel management and all other medical issues of paralysis.

United Spinal AssociationOur mission is to improve the quality of life of all Americans living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and post polio.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet: VA and Spinal Cord InjuryOf the more than 250,000 Americans with serious spinal cord injuries and disorders, about 42,000 are veterans eligible for medical care and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Paralysis Resource Center The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

Reeve Foundation Online Paralysis Community Connecting people living with paralysis, families, friends and caregivers so we can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope.

Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.

Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.

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Paralysis Resource Guide

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3001, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.