Good Shepherd Marks One Million Steps Using Ekso Bionics Exoskeleton

On August 14 at 3 p.m., Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network celebrated the millionth step taken by its patients using the Ekso bionic exoskeleton, a robotic device that helps people with lower limb paralysis and weakness to stand up and walk. Good Shepherd is the first organization to reach this milestone and has logged more steps than any other provider in the world.

Dave Fessler of Nazareth, who injured his spinal cord in 2012 in a body surfing accident in Nicaragua, took the millionth step with his wife, Anne, by his side. Thanks to his therapy in the Ekso as well as additional therapy at Good Shepherd, he can now walk several steps without an assistive device.

“The Ekso helped me build strength and re-learn how to coordinate my muscles to begin to walk again,” says Fessler. “I am honored to be taking the millionth step at Good Shepherd.”

Good Shepherd is using three Ekso bionic exoskeletons in both the outpatient and inpatient settings at its Allentown campus. The organization was the third rehabilitation facility in the country to receive an Ekso (in 2012) and the first in North America to offer Ekso with Variable Assist (2013), which allows therapists to fine tune the device’s power to adapt to the needs of people with partial paralysis, such as stroke patients.

“Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network’s philosophy centers on returning patients to their maximal function, and we embrace the principles of neuroplasticity, the capacity to rebuild neural pathways that have been impacted due to injury or neurological disease,” says Sue Golden, PT, NCS, Good Shepherd’s Director, Neurorehabilitation. “Ekso has allowed some of our incomplete spinal cord injury and stroke patients to achieve amazing functional results.”

Read Dave Fessler’s personal account of his injury and recovery process.

Read more about the Ekso bionic exoskeleton.