WICHITA, Kansas – A woman paralyzed by a skiing accident 21 years ago can now walk again thanks to the use of a bionic exoskeleton suit.
On Thursday, Amanda Boxtel stopped in Wichita to show other paraplegics they can do it too.
Amanda Boxtel takes life one step at a time and enjoys the perks of that along the way.
“Every time I get up, look I’m eye level with you! I can see you eye to eye, I’m not looking up your nostrils!” laughs Boxtel.
What you see Amanda doing, she dreamed of long before it every happened.
“I actually had imagined it in my waking dreams, being encased in some type of robotic outer shell and then I received the phone call that changed my life,” explains Boxtel.
A call to fly west and try-out what were then called ‘E-Legs.’
After figuring out the learning curve, Boxtel took her first steps in July of 2010 after 18 years as a paraplegic.
Boxtel says, “I went home and I cried hard that night because it was what I had yearned for, for so long.”
Now known as a bionic exoskeleton, Amanda walks five days a week.
She’s got 39,000 steps logged on her personal suit.
She’s the only person in the country with her own private device.
“I play an integral part, I have a responsibility to find my center of gravity and shift my weight. When I’ve shifted my weight correctly the robot will take another step,” says Boxtel.
One computer, two batteries, four motors, six joints and 15 sensors make all that happen.
“It’s always a euphoric moment!”
Boxtel says standing up never gets old.
Besides the emotional benefits, Boxtel says she experiences physical benefits too.
Normally carrying an off-the-charts level of nerve pain, when she stands Boxtel says that pain completely goes away.
“It could be that i’m looking at the world from a different perspective and my visual cues are different and so it’s confusing the pain signals in my brain,” says Boxtel.
A testament to what a difference a change in perspective can make.
“There’s every reason for a person to not give up, to live with an element of hope because this is real hope, to prepare your body to walk again for today because you can walk tomorrow.”
Amanda Boxtel is the founder of Bridging Bionics and makes it her goal to get bionic exoskeleton technology into communities to help other paraplegics get moving.
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