A big donation from the Soldier Strong organization is making medical miracles happen at the Audie Murphy Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center in San Antonio.
Wednesday, the group officially presented an Ekso Suit to the program. The state-of-the-art technology is a strap-on robotic device that helps people re-learn how to walk.
Dr. Blessen Eapen, who leads the rehabilitation team, said, “The robotic exoskeleton is a technology that has shown progress in the rehabilitation setting. It is not replacing physical therapists, but it is an adjunct to the treatment that we can provide for our service members and veterans.”
Eapen said the specialty suits are approved for use with people recovering from a stroke, spinal cord injuries, and some traumatic brain injuries.
Allen Turner nearly died in a November roll-over vehicle accident. Turner, who served four years in the Marine Corps, said his head was trapped under his car for about 45 minutes, and doctors gave his family a very grim prognosis.
Turner’s father, who shares his name, said doctors told the family his chances were bleak.
“They said he had a five percent chance of living,” said the elder Turner.
But from devastation to hope, just six weeks later, everyone is amazed.
Fighting back tears as he watched his son walk down a long hallway, Turner’s father said “In a month and a half, I mean, it's amazing. It's just totally amazing. These guys are a godsend!”
Helped by a cadre of therapists, Turner demonstrated how the Ekso Suit works. Turner said, “They said that I would be the best (to try it) and that it would be good for me and so I volunteered.”
Turner said he has been able to make amazing progress because he has a strong team.
“They're great and they definitely help quite a bit. I couldn't do it without them. The first time I put it on I was pretty close to falling a couple of times and they were there to catch me, so it's definitely nice to know that they're there,” Turner said.
Turner, who lives in Athens, Texas said he is excited about his prospects for continued recovery.
“I'm going to keep pushing and I hope to be walking back to my normal self pretty soon,” Turner promised.
Soldier Strong is a national non-profit organization that turns donations from individuals into medical technology for veterans on a continuing basis. If you’d like to help the effort, the organization encourages you to visit their website.