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What are our eLEGS test pilots saying? Profile on Fernanda Castelo

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    What are our eLEGS test pilots saying? Profile on Fernanda Castelo

    What are our eLEGS test pilots saying? Profile on Fernanda Castelo
    by Berkeley Bionics on April 26, 2011
    Fernanda Castelo

    Holmes, Jr.

    Paralysis was an unfamiliar world that forced me to re-learn how to move again. Waking up in a partially paralyzed body consumed me with fear and does to this day as I live with a distinct unknowingness of being an incomplete quadriplegic (meaning I have movement and sensation below my level of injury but I cannot walk without assistive devices). I’ve become a being whose lens of reality shifted to darken hopes, blurred visions, and is captured in a speed of stillness. My journey has been confusing and frustrating. I question: Who now resides in my physical frame, the paralysis or me?
    It was fifteen years ago when I fainted and my life altered. The fall on the floor was severe enough that the impact herniated cervical 5&6 disks into the spinal cord, causing trauma, shattered vertebrae, and swelling. All this took place while I was sitting on the toilet having an episode of stomach cramps. I lost sight of light. Instantly, flickering rays of hope were shadowed by darkness.

    Later, in a stark hospital room, my neurosurgeon had the complex responsibility of having to explain the outcome of my spinal cord injury – I felt heavy as a woolen blanket of numbness, deprived from normalcy. Days turned into weeks, months and years. My progress has been incremental with slight return of muscle functions and sensations. Giving up has never been an option. Investigating and evaluating when and when not to accept help was an immense learning curve for me. My loving family and community assisted me to become more mobile in my daily life. My mobility devices are not gadgets but tools that help me actively participate in life. Perched from a manual wheelchair in the earlier years, then corralled in a walker, to jousting with fore arm crutches, and lately rolling in a power chair – I celebrate my ability to be move. I’ve progressed with increased mobility over the years through experimenting with functional electrode stimulation (FES) and bi-lateral leg braces. I interchange between sitting, standing and assisted walking depending upon my needs.

    When eLEGS created a media buzz during Berkeley Bionics’ launch in October, 2010, I watched an eLEGS demonstration by Amanda Boxtel with intrigue and excitement. I was impacted for sure. I thought: Wow – here’s a wearable robotic scaffolding in the form of an exoskeleton – how awesome is that! It is external and non-invasive. That day I imagined myself standing upright in perfect posture, and eventually walking with eLEGS. And indeed the time came that we walked together.


    One can also view Rewalk's device in my opinion less bulkier. Rewalk intends to market the product to the consumers later this year. As to how suitable it will be i will have to try it out myself and comment later on. As to Amanda Boxtel in my opinion she gets overexcited and is a good marketing tool. I ve seen this after viewing her India treatment at Shroff, thought she would be waking by now on her own after all the hype.
    At the end of the day the question remains will be able to afford to purchase this device as both Berkeley and Rewalk's sole intention is to cash in on their investments.


      Thank you for selecting my profile from Berkeley Bionics.

      "thank you" for posting my profile. I, too, have been intrigued with diverse responses; acceptance, rejection, and a pivotal alternate of mobility devices that allows users to be upright as this concept technology of "wearable robotics." As of date, I am one of eLEGS' six test-pilots, and two of us are incomplete quads. Given that, not many quads, incomplete or complete are notably not considered for this type of testing. This openness challenges "robotic developers" that assistive devices is not the resolve for a cure, rather implements as a guide for progression.

      I gladly invite dialogue(s) and widen this path of encountering ideas, ideals, and proposals. Afterall, traumatized bodies with familiar experiences are worthy in articulating an emergence from paralysis.

      From Dave deBronkart's recent contribution for TED Talks, "patients are the most underUSED resource in our healthcare system."

      Dave deBronkart: Meet e-Patient Dave | Video on