Good Shepherd Is First in Nation To Be Trained in Ekso Bionic Exoskeleton Upgrade

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network (GSRN) recently became the first rehabilitation facility in the nation to be trained in the upgraded version of Ekso, a bionic battery-powered exoskeleton that allows patients with lower limb paralysis to stand up and walk. The upgraded Ekso allows patients to control the movement of the bionic exoskeleton, whereas the older version relied on a therapist to push a button to advance motion.

The newest Ekso has three walking modes that provide progressive rehabilitation options, giving patients the ability to gradually control the suit and gain greater independence. With the upgraded Ekso, the patient can gradually progress to ProStep™, a mode in which he or she controls the steps by body positioning. The device now also allows for a smoother gait.

Jason Angstadt of Fleetwood, who began using the Ekso in May, has progressed to the ProStep level with the upgraded version.

“Now I feel more in control,” says Jason. “The gait feels more natural. I am able to think less about the steps. I just shift my weight and it goes.”

Angstadt says that since he started using Ekso he has experienced less pain and fewer leg spasms. He also says it is also helping him further develop his strength, allowing him to more easily move with leg braces and a walker. He became paralyzed two years ago as a result of a farming accident.

In March 2012, Good Shepherd became the third rehabilitation center in the country to receive Ekso. Susan Golden, director, Neurorehabilitation, GSRN, says Ekso has been providing a variety of benefits to patients with spinal cord injuries. “Most of all, Ekso gives them renewed energy and hope for the future,” she says.