Three models of exoskeletons were demonstrated to an audience of industry professionals at STEPS Rehabilitation in Sheffield on 13 June, with Stewarts’ client Dale Messenger demonstrating one device. Partner Ben Rogers spoke at the event about the benefits these devices can bring to users.
Dale Messenger, who featured in one of our Life Beyond Injury films, demonstrated the Ekso GT device, and explained how much the exoskeleton has benefitted his mental and physical recovery. Dale was shot during military training in the Falkland Islands, which resulted in him becoming paraplegic. Speaking to the Yorkshire Post about the event, Dale commented:
“I went through real pain. I was on a lot of opiates. Nothing I did was helping. I trialled the Ekso three years after my injury. I loved it. By the end of the trial the pain levels went down significantly. That was big for me. It’s a big adjustment. Sport was a big thing in my army career and still is. My mental state improved, my physical state improved and I was able to go to the gym. And here we are today.”
The people who are currently benefitting most from the technology are those who have had a stroke, or sustained a spinal or head injury. Those supporting and working with exoskeleton users believe that the impact of the suits is remarkable and extensive.
Ben Rogers was the first UK lawyer to secure landmark awards of compensation for the purchase and replacement of the REX and Ekso exoskeletons for his clients. Ben commented in the Yorkshire Post:
“They are suitable for people suffering from strokes or who have other neurological conditions. But the issue is funding. You’re not going to get them through the NHS.”
There are currently around 25 exoskeletons being used by people in the UK for medical purposes. Partner Daniel Herman acts for a client who became the first person in Europe to secure damages to purchase the Indego exoskeleton. Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Daniel commented:
“We expect that to increase significantly. We have a number of clients looking to purchase exoskeleton devices in the next few months.”
Patients using an exoskeleton can experience improvements in their condition, including: better circulation; bone density; bladder and bowel functionality; a reduction in neuropathic pain and spasms; functional mobility improvements and increased muscle strength; considerable psychological benefits and an ability to pursue everyday tasks and hobbies.
As an emerging technology with a variety of applications from medical rehabilitation to use in industrial manufacturing, exoskeletons have received significant investment in recent years. However, despite this investment the potential of exoskeletons is not yet fully appreciated.
Following the event, Ben commented:
“I thought the day was a great success in raising awareness of the pioneering exoskeleton technology. At Stewarts, we have found it can make such a difference to our seriously injured clients’ lives, getting them back up on their feet again.”
The full article about the event, which featured in the Yorkshire Post, is no longer available online.
Dale Messenger and Simon Kindleyside
Ben Rogers, Daniel Herman and Chris Smith of Stewarts with Jules Leahy of STEPS
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