High-tech robotic suit helps paraplegics to walk

A young man was paralyzed in a motocross accident, but now thanks to some pretty cool technology he gets the chance to walk again.  Patients with spinal cord injuries are getting the chance to regain their independence thanks to a high-tech robotic suit looking like something out of a sci-fi-movie.

Fox 9 was there as one client got to test-drive the technology for the first time at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis.

Isaac Schreurs made the four-hour drive from Sioux Falls, South Dakota ready to work. Ready to literally take the next step in his life – a step he hasn’t been able to take for 10 years.

“I’m paralyzed from what would be my chest down, no feeling. Nothing.”

Isaac was 14 when he broke his back in a motocross accident that left him a paraplegic.  But he refused to let the injury cripple his life – “I do whatever I want to do and we make it happen,” he said.

He now uses hand controls to race cars and he’s a regular on the ski slopes. In the past, he has been upright and used technological advancements to move on his feet.  But he hasn’t walked, until now.

Isaac is one of the first patients at Abbott Northwestern’s Courage Kenny Rehab Institute to be fitted for the cyborg looking device known as a Re-Walk 6.0.  It’s what’s known as a robotic exoskeleton that comes with a computer allowing a user to be fully independent to walk and turn -- all at the controls of a watch.

With some coaching assistance and encouragement, the 24-year-old took his first steps while his mom and girlfriend watched overwhelmed with emotion.  Isaac walked the length of a long hospital hallway.

Right now he has a physical therapist holding on, but in sessions to come, he will do it on his own.

These devices cost $77,000 dollars and are built for patients to use them on their own at home and at work after they are fully trained.  Isaac is hoping he can convince his insurance company that it is a huge lifestyle and medical benefit that is worth covering.