Technology Helps Those with Spinal Cord Injuries Walk Again
Steve Adubato goes on-location to Kessler Foundation’s “Rebuilding Futures for our Nation’s Heroes” event to talk with Gail Forrest, Associate Director of Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation & Associate Research Professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, about her expertise in motor control and neuroplasticity and how advancements in technology has helped improve exoskeleton-assisted walking for those with spinal cord injuries.
"Doctor Forest, we're here tonight at Kessler Foundation, talking about the research that you and your colleagues are involved in, helping veterans improve the quality of their lives. Talk specifically about your research. We have a number of research studies which are funded by the Department of Defense, and they're aimed at, you know, the research that we do, they're aimed at improving... with a person with a spinal cord injury, basically repairing a lot that the damage of the spinal cord injury does in terms of muscle, in terms of bone, in terms of blood pressure, in terms of function. So we do... it covers... we do have a lot of research in a lot of different areas, and the idea is not only to improve in function, but also improve wellness, and also improve physical benefits for the individual. And that affects quality of life, you know. How they live day to day, is so much dependent upon the injury. So therefore, we're trying to fix it... not necessarily fix it, but definitely trying to see what we can do to repair much of the damage that's been done because of the injury that's secondary to the injury. Actually, one of the folks on a panel, a discussion I'll be moderating a little bit later on, is a veteran and has a serious spinal cord injury. He will be in the exoskeleton. He will be. Let folks who have either heard of it, haven't heard of it, just don't know exactly what it is... and why is it relevant to this discussion? The exoskeletons are unique, because they enable people who can't walk, who potentially want to walk, being able to walk over ground with the assistance of the exoskeleton. And that's what you're going to see. You're going to see a person with the aid of an exoskeleton is able to walk over ground, a person... and for this particular person, I think he really enjoys walking over ground, and for him, that improves his quality of life. And you'll see... he's very much... very good at... in this device. Yeah. So I... But what is it? I mean I've seen it, and again, folks... we're going to be showing some video of the exoskeleton as we talk about it. But how would you describe it in layperson's language? So it is, if you like, it's a device. It's got two motors at each hip, two motors at each knee, and it is the motors that allow the individual to..."