Now he’s ready to stand up and walk again – on a limited basis – with the help of a $128,000 “wearable robot” that was recently delivered to his Madison apartment.
The motorized, computer-assisted mechanism looks like something out of science fiction, but it’s a product of a growing medical robotics industry that offers new hope to some of the tens of thousands of people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries, strokes and other neurological disorders.
For Rose, it’s the next step in his rapid ascent from the deep depression and hopelessness that plagued him for months after he regained consciousness on April 27, 2011, looked through a window spiderwebbed with cracks in his upended armored vehicle and realized his legs were numb and lifeless.
Next month, several of Rose’s friends will be trained to help him safely maneuver in his robotic suit. Until then, Rose said, the manufacturer is withholding startup instructions.
“I asked them a few times how to work it, but they wouldn’t tell me,” Rose said, a small, mischievous smile spreading on his bearded face. “They kind of know what kind of person I am. I am kind of adventurous.”
Rose is the second paralyzed U.S. military veteran to own a motorized “exoskeleton” manufactured by Ekso Bionics, of Richmond, Calif., the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Ekso is one of a few pioneering companies developing this type of strap-on robotic device. It is primarily a rehabilitation tool that helps paraplegic men and women stay flexible and reduce medical problems created by prolonged inactivity.
But the robots can also be used, with limits, for getting around on any flat surface, said Ekso spokeswoman Heidi Darling.
You may not see Rose striding down State Street anytime soon, because the machine isn’t designed to step over street curbs. But he said he’ll be walking on bike paths as soon as the snow clears.<< previous 1 2 3 4 5 next >>