Mid-South hospital first to use exoskeleton for rehabilitation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A device that is providing new hope to thousands of people with spinal cord and stroke injuries is now helping those in the Mid-South.

Baptist Memorial Rehabilitation Hospital is the first hospital in Tennessee to use an EksoGT robotic exoskeleton for stroke and spinal cord rehabilitation.

The device looks like something out of a science fiction movie but it’s helping victims like Hillary Barerra who suffered a spinal cord injury after falling 25 feet of a roof nearly 5 years ago.

She says that the exoskeleton has given her a memory may have forgotten.

“The most impactful thing exo did for me was sort of deliver that memory of what walking was actually suppose to feel like,” Barerra said.

The motorized device attaches to a patient’s back and legs and only kicks in when the patient needs help moving.

It has a number of different settings and can even tell you how much of the work the machine is having to do.

Mark Cunningham a doctor at Baptist Memorial said like Barerra the exoskeleton helps patient gain confidence.

“Most people who come here want to walk again or want to walk out of here,” Cunningham said. “It gives them a real sense of confidence of what it feels like to get back up and get walking.”

The results of the treatment for patients is not overnight but with work and dedication patients gain more confidence in a task that many take for granted.

Barrera is going through the program right now. Three years ago she could walk a quarter mile in 40 minutes.

She said the exo suit has helped her strengthen her ability to walk, so much so, that this spring she plans on doing a 5k on her feet.