Rehab center using technology to help paralyzed people walk again

Author: , Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published: Mar 14 2012 04:47:13 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 14 2012 05:37:00 PM EDT
Ekso walking demonstration
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The impossible is now possible at Good Shepherd in Allentown.

The rehabilitation center is one of only a few across the country to scoop up technology that's helping some patients walk for the first time in years.

"It feels great. I mean it's awesome to be able to walk again," said Jesse Shively, who took her first steps in more than two years after a paralyzing car accident.

Ekso, formerly eLEGS, is a bionic exoskeleton walking system that made Shively's first steps possible.

"Going to be able to offer as part of therapy," said Sue Golden, of Good Shepherd. "People can now get up and learn to walk with it." 

About a year ago, during a demonstration, 69 News witnessed the emotional power the legs could give as Ally Armstrong, 18, took her first steps after being paralyzed in a snow tubing accident.

This week, Good Shepherd became one of three hospitals nationwide to own the Ekso bionic exoskeleton.

For Kevin Oldt, of Alburtis, Lehigh Co., who got a taste of the legs last year, it's sanity-saving therapy.

"Last yearm first time in 9 years. Now 12-13 months later standing again," said Oldt.

Patients are evaluated, measured, and stretched. The legs are then adjusted to each patient's frame.

"Feels like something completely new again," said Shively. "Cause used to sitting in a chair all day long, nice to get out and stretch out again."

The California-based company that makes the product hopes to eventually have an in-home model, but for now, those like Shively will have to settle for getting sore in public.

"They can tell been used. It's a good feeling because it doesn't happen very often," Shively said.