British woman first to take robotic suit

British woman first to take robotic suit

LONDON - Reuters
British woman first to take robotic suit

Claire Lomas stands on robotic legs to light the Paralympic cauldron in London. REUTERS photo

A British woman paralyzed from the chest down by a horse riding accident has become the first person to take home a robotic exoskeleton that enables her to walk.

 Although bionic exoskeletons have been used in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, Claire Lomas is the first to take the ReWalk suit home for everyday use.

 Lomas earlier this year used the suit to complete the London Marathon in 17 days, raising about 200,000 pounds for research into spinal damage, and she was recently given the job of lighting the Paralympic cauldron in Trafalgar Square. But she said more routine activities are equally gratifying.

 “One of the best experiences was standing at a bar,” she said. “To be stood up in this means everything to me.” Larry Jasinski, chief executive of Argo Medical Technologies, the company that developed the suit, told he was initially nervous about backing the marathon bid because the suit was still being tested but Lomas said it held up well.

 “The suit was really reliable in the worst weather and I got there 17 days later,” she said.

 The exoskeleton is activated by the wearer tilting their balance to indicate the desire to take a step. It supports the body’s weight and also allows the person to go up or down stairs, as well as sit or stand up independently.
The suit costs 45,000 pounds.