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Man paralyzed in workplace accident can stand, walk again

Fortunately for many employees in Colorado, workplace back injuries rarely end in paralysis. That does not mean that some don't, or that some work accidents result in severe injuries to the spine, many of which result in workers' compensation. One of the biggest problems with workplace back injuries is that they can quickly go from just a small twinge into something much more serious.

For anyone in Pueblo who has been paralyzed in a workplace accident, however, there is news that robotic devices that help paralyzed individuals stand and walk are edging closer to being available to the public. Though the different models are still being tested and have a way to go, these devices could one day help many people in Colorado who are paralyzed.

One man who was paralyzed in an on-the-job accident is one of the lucky few to test out one of the wearable robot models. His model, called the Indego is the lightest of the electronic legs (another name for "wearable robot" or "powered exoskeleton"), yet it still weighs 27 pounds. One of the most unique features about this model, however, is that it can be disassembled and assembled quite easily. In fact, it is designed to be carried in a backpack on the back of a wheelchair. When the man wishes to put the exoskeleton on, he can, otherwise it is safely tucked away.

Though these wearable robots do provide a great deal of freedom and health benefits for individuals left paralyzed by workplace accidents, they are not currently available to the public. It is estimated that the machines could be available in a year, yet it will take years of research and data before private insurance or Medicare would pay for such devices. Ultimately, however, these devices will likely be available.

Source: The Denver Post, "Wearable device brings hope for spinal injury, stroke recovery," Carla K. Johnson, May 9, 2013

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