After surviving a storm of slings and arrows over the course of her life, Amanda Boxtel could never have imagined that a paralyzing skiing accident would change her life… for the better.
As a motivational speaker and author, Amanda is now helping others overcome similar challenges, having founded her own successful non-profit, Challenge Aspen. She even returned to the slopes, becoming a ski instructor using special adaptive equipment.
Best of all, thanks to new technology, Amanda is walking again, with the use of eLEGS, a wearable, battery-powered exoskeleton walking device.
“To take my first step in the eLEGS was just astounding because I bent my knee for the first time in 18 years…it was so natural,” said Boxtell, the new spokesperson for eLEGS. “I’m not meant to be in my wheelchair, sitting down and rolling, I want to be tall in my body.”
Through a new program at the Kessler Foundation, a non-profit that helps people with disabilities lead fulfilling lives, millions of paraplegics could potentially follow in Amanda’s footsteps. Six individuals will take their first steps tomorrow.
“This could become the first rehabilitative device that after someone is injured, they go from walking right back to walking while they still have the muscle memory within them,” explained Boxtel. “To keep those muscles firing, to weight bare on their legs, keep the blood circulating, their digestive systems working well, there’s huge therapeutic benefits for this device that then will become a preventative measure in the long term because our bodies are meant to be walking upright and moving.”
The Kessler Foundation is one of ten rehabilitation centers across the U.S. to partner with Berkeley Bionics, to develop protocols and examine how the overall health of wheelchair users with spinal cord injury improves with eLEGS. Staff will train research participants to use the exoskeleton and to eventually stand and walk.
Ms. Boxtel, who has been learning to walk independently with eLEGS for two years, will be onhand to demonstrate its use.
The robotic walking device is targeted for home and community use in 2013.
WATCH the inspiring video below…
UPDATE: (Nov. 15) Berkely Bionics has become Ekso Bionics and eLEGS becomes Ekso.