Walk. Can't Walk. ReWalk.

By Ron Gold, CEO, LeanOnWe

There's walking (which I can no longer do) and then there's ReWalk-ing (the very appropriate name for what I'm learning to do now).

The ReWalk is a fascinating, sci-fi wearable exoskeleton designed to support walking in paraplegics like me. It has a rigid frame that attaches to the legs and torso, powered by battery-operated motors that control the hip and knee joints.

I'm thrilled to finally be benefitting from the robotics revolution. It's incredible progress, but still not so easy to manage.

After undergoing a detailed evaluation, I was one of a few selected for training and it will take at least 30 outpatient physical therapy sessions at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital until I'm cleared to take the device home. And even once it's home, I won't use it around the house much. It's too cumbersome to easily take on and off, and it's not particularly practical for most daily activities.

I'll always need a companion by my side, but I am "walking" - with 100% assistance from on-board computers and motion sensors that are guided by me. I'll be outdoors seeing the world in a way I haven't in the 12+ years since a drowsy SUV driver crossed over traffic lanes and slammed head-on into my bicycle, leaving my spine crushed and my legs paralyzed for life.

After so many years, I can't wait to stand upright and interact with people at eye level, to hug my wife like I used to, to return to the back row in group photos, and to be seen in a way that sometimes wheelchair users are not. It's the anticipation of someone who's grown weary of always looking up from that chair.

But this isn't just standing - it's an overwhelming sense of hope.

And I've been longing for it ever since I had the opportunity more than a decade ago to go to ReWalk's office and meet with Dr. Amit Gofer, the pioneering engineer who invented this device because of his own experience as a quadriplegic. Today, the company also offers ReStore, a powered, lightweight exo-suit for use in rehabilitating stroke patients.

Recently, I was training with my ReWalk physical therapist, Derrick Onate, and my Burke physical therapist, Sharief Enany, who is supporting me from behind.

Watch me ReWalk!

As you can see from the video above, I'm locked in and focused with my game face.

It's my first day and I'm getting substantial support from Sharief. Derrick is the experienced one and he's guiding me and Sharief.

My goal will be to do as much as I can by myself and gradually reduce the amount of support I'm getting from Sharief.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, but my hopes and aspirations that were relegated to the dustbin after 5+ months in hospitals are now percolating with possibility.

A trek through the city.

A jaunt across a room.

A stroll to a neighborhood shop.

Having a spinal cord injury is no walk in the park.

Until now.

To follow Ron's ReWalk journey, please click here.

About The Author

When an out-of-control SUV barreled into Ron's bicycle on a quiet road in New Jersey in 2011, the accident left him paralyzed and in need of home care every day. And when he experienced countless problems finding reliable, affordable private caregivers, Ron knew there had to be a better way. He founded LeanOnWe with a focus on delivering a better, more thoughtful home care experience at a reasonable cost. Learn more