On average, three people a week sustain a life-changing spinal cord injury (SCI) in Ireland, as a result of accidental injury or degenerative disease. Access to skilled rehabilitation is vital to maximise functioning, independence and overall wellbeing.
DCU’s Exoskeleton Programme enables people who have reduced mobility due to paralysis to walk again wearing a robotic suit (exoskeleton) created by Ekso Bionics. Robotic rehabilitation with the physiotherapist-led service offers significant mental and physical benefits for individuals living with paralysis. Not only are they supported to walk again, but any secondary problems they suffer from, such as chronic pain, bowel accidents, painful spasms, bladder accidents and respiratory illness, are also improved from this therapy.
The programme was first launched in March 2019 and in the 2020/21 academic year, it facilitated 444 walking sessions for 55 individuals affected by paralysis, despite closures due to Covid-19. The benefits reported by service users have included:
We are currently seeking philanthropic support for doctoral and post-doctoral research positions that will enable DCU’s School of Health and Human Performance to explore the impact of Exo participation and how to optimise the intervention structure. Such research is vital to enable other individuals affected by paralysis beyond the population using the DCU programme to benefit.