An estimated 15 million people around the world will experience a stroke each year, with more than 60% of survivors finding themselves unable to walk. A separate 500,000 individuals acquire spinal cord injuries that also leave them paralyzed. For stroke and spinal cord injury survivors, this means a long and discouraging road to recovery with grueling and extensive physical therapy sessions. For many, they begin to think that they will never walk or stand again and will remain dependent upon a caregiver for support.
Jennifer Kray, of Wheaton, Ill., was only 23 when she experienced a stroke. Now a few years older, Jen continues to put one foot in front of the other, literally, with a positive attitude and the EksoGT™ robotic exoskeleton at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, part of Northwestern Medicine.
The EksoGT is a battery-powered frame that enables individuals with lower-extremity weakness or paralysis to stand and walk. It is used as part of a physical therapy plan to support the re-learning of correct step patterns, weight shifting, and balance.
Just three months away from graduating with her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, Kray suffered a serious brain bleed and stroke. She lost control of the left side of her body and collapsed. When she woke from a coma, Kray was unable to communicate and could only move the tip of her right thumb.
However, new technological advances in rehabilitation, like the EksoGT, are putting the odds back in favor for survivors, like Jen, and allowing them to achieve the remarkable. Most notably, robotic exoskeletons have been helping survivors get back on their feet sooner and walking, with a regained sense of independence.
During her long recovery, Kray has benefited from a wide variety of innovative equipment at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, but one ofher favorite was the EksoGT. An avid runner before her stroke, Kray longs to run again with her dog Molly.
“When I walk in the exoskeleton, I picture that I’m running on my favorite running path. The machine corrects the movement of my body and I get the wonderful feeling that I used to while running,” said Kray.
Jen’s trust in her situation and in her Marianjoy care team is helping her walk a new path with confidence and optimism.
Stroke Patients Learn To Walk Again – Part 1
Stroke Patients Learn To Walk Again – Part 2
Learn more about the EksoGT at the following websites: