Paralyzed man walks again with bionic legs

It may only permit users to take baby steps, but a newly developed set of bionic legs represents a giant step forward in treatment for paralytics.

Dubbed Rex, the revolutionary new invention lets wearers stand, walk, and even go up and down slopes and steps, according to the Daily Mail.
The robotized exoskeleton is being tested in New Zealand and may have a preliminary release in Auckland later this year, according to Jenny Morel, CEO of Rex Bionics. By the middle of 2011, Rex may be sold in other parts of the world.

Rex allowed Hayden Allen, who injured his spinal cord in a motorbike accident some five years ago and was told he’d never walk again, to do just that. As one of the first people ever to use Rex, Allen, a mechanic, spoke of how liberated it made him feel.

“I’ll never forget what it was like to see my feet walking under me the first time I used Rex,” he told the Daily Mail.

Users must get from their chair into the robotized exoskeleton, get strapped in, and control their movements with a joystick and control pad. Powered by a lightweight, rechargeable battery, the unit must be custom-made for each user. It costs around $150,000.

Auckland neurologist Dr. Richard Roxburgh, medical adviser to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, told the Daily Mail that Rex gave many of his patients their first opportunity in years to stand up and walk.

“There are obvious immediate benefits in terms of mobility, improved social interaction and self-image,” Roxburgh told the Daily Mail. “There are also likely to be major long-term health and quality-of-life benefits through reducing the complications of being in a wheelchair all the time.

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