Healthbeat: Exoskeleton therapy helps injured walk again

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Spinal cord injuries and stroke both have something in common. They could rob someone of their mobility. But thanks to technology, some who lost the ability to walk are now able to take steps.

One of the newest pieces of technology exists at the Charles Luger Outpatient Clinic on the campus of Allied Services in Scranton. It’s called the Indego Exoskeleton and it’s had a tremendous impact on the life of a young Scranton woman left paralyzed as a teenager in a horrible car crash.

30-year-old Nicholette Peoples is preparing to do something she wasn’t sure she’d ever do again since that August day in 2006 when at 16 years old, she suffered a devastating spinal cord injury.

“It’s a complete injury which means I have absolutely no ability to walk at all,” Peoples said.

But since last year, she’s been suiting up weekly in the Indego Exoskeleton at Allied Services.

“I did not expect ever just to be able to wake up in the morning and be able to take a walk and it’s really cool to be able to do that two days a week,” Peoples said.

She uses a walker or forearm crutches to give her balance. A physical therapist works closely with her as the Exoskeleton powers Peoples’ lower limbs.

“She’s been very realistic through her whole recovery process and you know she knows what this Exoskeleton can do and can’t do,” Stacey Williams, a physical therapist with Allied Services told Eyewitness News.

What it can do is provide Peoples physical benefits.

“It’s good for blood circulation. It’s good for bone density. It’s good for, like, just regular bodily functions everybody has. It’s good for, my muscle tone has actually improved,” Peoples said.

And it’s not just spinal cord injury patients who benefit from this technology.

“And with our stroke patients it has helped them to recover more normal walking function,” Williams explained.

Peoples has not given up on the idea that someday, some way she may walk independently again — hoping this therapy puts her on that path.

“There’s no way to say what the exoskeleton will accomplish but just being having my body upright when it has not been in 14 years is amazing,” Peoples said.

The Indego Exoskeleton also exists at Allied’s Wilkes-Barre area campus. More information on the Indego Exoskeleton can be found on Allied Service’s website.

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