DCU Exoskeleton Programme

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 Exoskeleton Programme is helping people to walk again

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:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness & health
  • Better lung function and bone density
  • Improved sitting balance
  • The opportunity to return to employment, leisure and hobbies
  • Increased functional independence in day-to-day activities, reducing carer burden
  • Improved quality of life, body image and self-worth

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.

Meet our Exo service users

Shaping the Future of Paralysis Treatment

The DCU Exoskeleton Programme is a research-driven initiative that is shaping the future of paralysis...
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DCU’s Exoskeleton Programme – Colm’s Story

Colm Costigan was a very active man, having ran four marathons and competing the Ring...
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DCU’s Exoskeleton Programme – Hugh’s Story

Hugh Smith lives in Dublin with his wife and three children. He used to enjoy...
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DCU’s Exoskeleton Programme – Deirdre’s Story

Deirdre Heffernan, originally from Co. Mayo, lived a normal life in Dublin until she experienced...
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