I have previously mentioned about the Ekso skeleton that I use on a regular basis. It is literally like my second pair of legs. The Ekso skeleton which I use is aimed for rehab purposes created by the company Ekso Bionics. Ekso Bionics don’t only aim their product for spinal injuries but also for patients that have had strokes.
I go to a brilliant rehabilitation centre near Winchester called Hobbs Rehabilitation. They provide specialist neurological rehab for adults and children across the South of England. They offer so many services including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language, neuropsychology and much more. As well as brilliant therapist they can also offer the latest neuro technology.
I feel so lucky to be able to use this incredible piece of equipment as part of my rehab and fitness. Before I started using the Ekso skeleton the only way of me standing was by using a standing frame. I still use this but walking gives so many more benefits. The reason why it is so important to put weight through my joints is so that I don’t lose bone density. If my bone density was to decrease then I would have a high risk of brittle bones and therefore breaking my bones more easily if I were to knock them. This is to be prevented as much as possible as I wouldn’t heal as well but also it could be missed as I wouldn’t know if I had broken anything. I don’t want to be away from riding any longer than I need to be.
Other reasons I have found this so beneficial is that it has helped my circulation which I have really struggled with since the accident. I still have poor circulation but since walking weekly my feet don’t swell as much. I am able to perform balance exercises, change the pace of my walking and challenge myself more than when I am just standing. It has helped strengthen my core which is so important for me for when I am riding but also for transfers and other exercises. An added bonus is that it really feels great to have the opportunity to be walking again.
I remember the first day I went to try it out as I had to have a full assessment. This involved measuring my limbs to make sure I was tall enough, check I had no tightness in my limbs and answering questions to make sure that I was suitable to use it, as there are certain things that could prevent you from being able to use it. I was so excited when they told me I was suitable. All I wanted was to get in it and have a go. When first using the Ekso skeleton there needs to be 3 therapists for safety. One behind supporting me and helping to shift my weight, one using the controls and then another in front to make sure my posture is correct and again to help with support. As I have been using the device every week for over a year I now only have one therapist.
Once I had transferred into the Ekso I was strapped in and made secure. The device stands you up and the therapist helps. I was very lucky that my blood pressure didn’t drop as this can happen to some people. Everyone was very supportive and encouraging. My parents were with me and were just so happy to see me so excited to get walking. I’m only 5’2 but I felt so tall I couldn’t believe it. Once I started walking there was no stopping me, I just kept going and going. The therapist kept asking me if I wanted to sit down but I had done enough sitting. Once the session was over thats when the emotion hit. My parents were a bit teary but it was just pure happiness. For the first time since the accident I had felt like I had really done some exercise and got my heart going which was a great feeling.
It is amazing to feel the difference in the way I now walk using the Ekso. I have much more balance and control over it. I have the controls attached to my crutch so I decide when to do the first step and then stop at the other end. Not only do they help me with Ekso they also do physiotherapy on my shoulder and give me other strengthening exercises.
The team at Hobbs rehabilitation have been absolutely amazing, they know how much I like to be pushed and are always challenging me so that I can continue to improve. They are all so friendly and understand the importance of me getting back to riding.