Upright Paraplegics Show Improved Health Stats

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Other than being physically and emotionally therapeutic, Tagatac said being upright does wonders for relieving his neuropathic pain, which is a common sensation among spinal injury patients. For Tagatac, it manifests itself as an "eight-inch leather belt that feels like it's being pulled very tight around my stomach and my back," he said.

Although the pain doesn't go away completely, it immediately decreases by about 70 percent when he's upright, Tagatac said.

In time, Tagatac said he hopes to see the device in rehabilitation centers nationwide and maybe even in homes as a wheelchair replacement. A British woman became the first paraplegic to take a bionic walking device home this month, Reuter's reports.

Long-term studies are still needed to examine how Ekso affects secondary complications from paralysis, such as pressure ulcers, chronic pain and loss of bladder control, but they're next on the list, Dyson-Hudson said.

Forrest is now in the process of applying for grants to buy another Ekso robot and bring in more patients.

"The goal is really to get additional funding so she can collect even more data and bring more subjects in," Dyson-Hudson said. He said he believes that Ekso-like devices could move toward use in rehab programs and in patients' homes. "The research is really key to that to show that they work. They have some benefits."

Since his accident, Tagatac has kept close watch on studies that could cure paralysis through regeneration or other methods in the future. He said he thinks Ekso is a part of the solution.

"I view the Ekso as something that fills the gap until that miracle happens," he said. "Ekso is the best possible tool to stay in shape and continue to walk until that science arrives."

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