This paralysed woman can now walk thanks to $100K cybernetic robot legs
How much do you take the simple act of standing up and walking for granted? For the vast majority of us, it's something we don't even think about; it's simply an automatic process. But for some people, it's outright impossible - they are reliant on wheelchairs for mobility, and their movement is restricted. That was what life was like for Lucy Dodd, a 34-year-old children's social worker from Hampshire in England, until a scientific marvel recently gave her her legs back.
Lucy has been wheelchair-bound since she was 19-years-old. In the summer of 2002, a few weeks into her first term at university, Lucy began losing control of her left leg, which left her very unstable. By the time Christmas rolled around her mobility was totally restricted, and Lucy visited the doctor at her parent's urging. On Christmas eve lucy learned that she had a rare condition, which affects one in 100,000 people, called arteriovenous malformation (AVM); a type of spinal deformity caused by an abnormal tangle of blood vessels in the spinal cord.
Lucy was told she would never walk again, but 14 years later that's exactly what she did, thanks to a pair of amazing robotic legs. The $100,000 exoskeleton, named the ReWalk, designed to help people with spinal injuries to stand upright, as well as walk, turn and climb stairs. Lucy has already tested out the bionic contraption, which fits her legs via a special harness, and says that the experience has changed her life.
Commenting on her brand-new exoskeleton, Lucy stated: "At first, I thought it wasn’t for public use. But I started to see things about it on social media and elsewhere and managed to get on a trial for one. Even though you have to use crutches to help support yourself, it felt completely natural, as though I was 18 again and none of this had ever happened ...
"It was a completely surreal day. It was so amazing, just being able to do the things that most people take entirely for granted. Looking other people in the eye, being able to hug people properly and them not having to lean down over you all the time. The memories of doing those simple things from before I was in a wheelchair all came flooding back and it was very emotional for me."
She added: "I went all over the country seeing various specialists and at first the doctors thought that there would be a way of curing me. I dropped out of university that year and was basically confined to the house ... Suddenly, you have to get used to a life where you are dependent on other people for the simplest things. At 18 years old, that’s pretty tough."
Lucy is currently raising money to buy the bionic legs for herself and has thus far raised over a quarter of the money she needs. If you'd like to contribute to her cause, then visit her page on GoFundMe to make a donation.