Science is helping some spinal cord injury victims to walk again with a new device that attaches to the body like a backpack.
According to 9news.com, the EKSO exoskeleton has been called a “wearable” robot. In reality, it is a device that resembles a slim backpack with leg and feet extensions. The backpack contains the batteries and also serves as back support, while the extensions attach the electrodes that send electrical signals to the legs and feet. This signal helps prompt victims with spinal cord injuries and people with weak lower extremities to stand up and walk. The device is only being used within a hospital environment during this trial period. At $125,000.00 apiece, most victims cannot afford it. However, its creators hope that future generations of EKSO will be cheaper, as well as more compact, enabling it to be used outside the hospital setting.
Although the exoskeleton is not a cure, Candy Tefertiller, the director of physical therapy at Craig Hospital (who is also the physical therapist working most closely with the wearable robot), says that they hope it will someday give patients a choice between a wheelchair or walking using the EKSO exoskeleton.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The vertebral column is formed by thirty-three vertebrae that go from the base of the skull to the tailbone. The spinal cord is encased within those vertebrae. Trauma to the spinal cord may result in an injury the cord itself or in indirect damage to the surrounding bones, tissues, or blood vessels. Direct trauma occurs when the cord is cut, pulled, pressed sideways or compressed. These types of injuries occur when the head, neck, or back are twisted abnormally. Please note that about 30% of spinal cord injuries suffered by quadriplegic patients are traumas to the cervical spine, which is encased in seven vertebrae located in the neck area.
Typically, these injuries occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries (like when a diver dives head first into water that is too shallow or a football player tackles an opponent while leading with his head), industrial accidents and other causes.
Medical professionals classify traumatic spinal cord injury into five categories:
- Cases in category “A” have suffered a “complete” spinal cord injury. In other words, the victim has no motor or sensory function preserved in the sacral segments S4-S5.
- Those in category “B” have suffered the first spinal cord injury classified as “incomplete”. In these cases the victim has sensory perception, but no motor function below the neurological level, including the sacral segments S4-S5. This is usually a temporary phase. Victims that recover any motor function below the neurological level, become a motor incomplete (i.e. either a category “C” or “D”, as explained below).
- A patient in category “C” is also one with an “incomplete” spinal cord injury. In these cases, motor function is preserved below the neurological level and more than half of the key muscles below that level having a muscle grade of less than 3. That indicates active movement with full range of motion against gravity.
- A category “D” also indicates an “incomplete” spinal cord injury, but the motor function in these cases is preserved below the neurological level and at least half of the key muscles below the neurological level have a muscle grade of 3 or more.
- Category “E” indicates that the patient has “normal” motor and sensory scores. Please note that the reason for this category is that a person may suffer a spinal cord injury and have neurological deficits while having completely normal motor and sensory scores.
The Lawyers at Greenberg and Stone Can Help
With more than 70 years of combined experience, the lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano are ready to help victims that have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a tractor-trailer accident, an accident at an amusement park any other kind of accident caused by someone else’s negligence recover the compensation that may be owed to them.
If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a tractor-trailer accident, an accident at an amusement park or any other kind of accident, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases. Throughout the years, the Miami Dade County Spinal Cord Injuries Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have represented many clients involved in serious motor vehicle accidents that have caused spinal cord injuries.
Please visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today for a free consultation. Our practice has been extended with a new satellite office in Aventura to accommodate clients that reside in Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Dania & Dania Beach, Miramar, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Aventura, Miami Beach, Surfside, Sunny Isles and Miami Gardens.