Bionic Leg Helps Teen Walk Again After Spinal Cord Surgery

June 05, 2017
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Memorial Rehabilitation Institute now offers patients the AlterG Bionic Leg™ thanks to the support and generosity of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation donors.

The bionic leg is a wearable robotic device used to increase control of the legs while training patients how to move and walk again. It improves the ability to shift weight from one leg to the other, making everyday activities such as standing up, sitting down, going up and down stairs, and walking much easier.

Memorial’s first patient to use the bionic leg was Owen, who has diplegic cerebral palsy and underwent spinal cord surgery at age 17. During his inpatient rehabilitation stay, Owen had difficulty taking steps because of the change in the sensation and strength in both legs following his surgery. He was able to stand up holding on to bars on either side of him, but could not shift his weight or control his knee in order to take steps forward.

The first day he used the bionic leg, Owen was able to take steps using parallel bars with no additional help and moved from the bars to a walker the same day. In three days, he made enough progress to walk without the assistance of the bionic leg. The device gave him the confidence he needed to make a great deal of progress in a short period of time.