The simple act of walking is something many of us take for granted, but there are about 6 million Americans living with paralysis today, according to research from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. That’s equal to the combined populations of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Or, about 1 in 50 people.
While technology has come a long way for making life easier for people in wheelchairs, medical advances are also nice to hear about. Case in point: a Bulgarian man named Darek Fidyka whose spinal cord was severed in a stabbing incident is now able to walk with a frame. Back in 2012, Fidyka, 38, received a novel surgery in which doctors in Poland took stem cells from his nose and transplanted them into the damaged part of his spine, Time.com reports.
After his injury four years ago, he was given just a 1% chance of recovery.
On top of that, there are a crop of new, non-surgical technologies that open up possibilities for those with paralysis or motor issues. Here are three more people who got a bionic boost.
Groom walks with exoskeleton
Ekso is an FDA-approved robotic suit designed for people with any amount of lower extremity weakness. By shifting their weight, users can activate sensors in the battery-powered device that jumpstarts movement. The suit made news this week for its appearance at a wedding in Syracuse, New York. The groom, Matt Ficarra, who was paralyzed in a boating accident three years ago, wanted to walk his bride down the aisle on his wedding day, according to Syracuse.com. He started practicing with Ekso in April in order to make that happen, and guests cheered him on as he and his wife Jordan walked out of the ballroom.
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Child plays soccer thanks to mobility device
It may not be high-tech, but Upsee‘s power to help little ones with motor impairments walk sure is awesome. A woman named Debby Elnatan created the device for her son, Rotem, who has cerebral palsy, reports The Huffington Post. Upsee has three parts: an adult hip belt that attaches to mom or dad, a child’s harness, plus sandals to fit both sets of feet. The parent’s movement helps the child move. Watch the clip below to see how Daniel, a 4-year-old from the UK with an undiagnosed genetic condition, is able to use Upsee to kick around a soccer ball. That’s so sweet! There’s a version for infants 1 or 2 years old and another standard option for toddlers ages 3 and up.
Bride learns to walk with special brace
Another person’s wedding day was made brighter with the help of a special brace. Paralyzed in a car accident six years ago, Gina Giaffoglione went through more than a year of physical therapy in Iowa to learn how to straighten her body and walk with a brace and clutch on her wedding day, reports People.com. The best part: prosthetic specialists were able to redesign Gina’s leg brace to fit discretely under her gown. Needless to say, there were tears and smiles as Gina surprised her guests by walking down the aisle earlier this month.