Technology designed for combat zones by the US military is being used successfully in Irish gyms to return the gift of movement to people with paralysed limbs.

The wearable “bionic suit” allows disabled people get the physical and mental benefits of walking and its ease of use has seen the technology spread from the hospital environment to the community.

The suit, made by Ekso Bionics of California, was originally designed for people with complete spinal cord injury but is now also being used to treat people with multiple sclerosis or who have had a stroke.

At the Elite gym in Cork, almost as many people with disabilities as able-bodied people are members, since owner Colin O’Shaughnessy and spinal cord injury survivor Nathan Kirwan raised the funds to equip the gym with an Ekso suit.

Mr Kirwan was a patient in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin but on discharge found rehab services suitable to his needs were lacking in his native Cork. Having tried on the bionic suit on a trial in Galway, he decided the technology needed to be available more widely in a gym.

Source: Irish Times