ReWalk 2.0 exoskeleton technology helps paralyzed veteran walk

FDA approval for home use of ReWalk pending

SAN DIEGO - Two years ago, treatment for a pulmonary disorder caused a spinal infection which cost retired Army Sgt. Theresa Hannigan the use of her legs, but a chance meeting at a VA hospital in New York changed her life.

"They asked me if I wanted to take part in an experimental program with a new device that would allow me to stand and possibly walk," Hannigan said. "I said, 'Show me.'" 

They did and she can now do something she never thought possible. 

"The first time I stood up, I started crying and had to sit down, it was so overwhelming," she said. 

It was made possible by the ReWalk 2.0, which is made by Argo Medical Technology. The ReWalk 2.0 is literally strapped on to Hannigan but it is the onboard computer and sensors that mimic someone's ability to walk that set it apart from other exoskeleton devices. 

"It allows them to really go for a walk instead of going for a ride," said Pete Escallier, who is with ReWalk. "They have complete control." 

For now, the device can only be used as part of her therapy at the VA, which is field testing the device. 

The device costs $60,000 to $70,000 and has been approved for home use in Europe, but it is still pending FDA approval in the United States. 

"All I'm asking is for an opportunity… an opportunity to be normal," said Hannigan.

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