Life-changing device for paralyzed woman en route to Windsor

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By Ashley Thompson, TC MEDIA

WINDSOR - Amy Paradis is awaiting the arrival of a life-changing parcel — a bionic suit.

Amy Paradis, who was left paralyzed following a car crash in 2009, is hoping to be up and walking in a robotic suit by the end of the month.

Submitted photo

When the much-anticipated package arrives in her hometown of Windsor, it will mark the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the 20-year-old’s journey to regain the use of her legs following a car accident that left her paralyzed in 2009.

Windsor’s own FootPrints SCI-Recovery — a non-profit spinal cord recovery centre Paradis operates with her mother, Marlene Belliveau — has placed its order for the Ekso Bionics Exoskeleton.

Belliveau says the hope is the $80,000 exoskeleton will promptly pass through customs and arrive in time for a five-day training block with clinicians from California that is scheduled to begin March 24.

The exoskeleton is essentially a battery-powered device Paradis can strap on and use to stand, and walk, on her own two feet again.

Paradis has devoted the years after the crash to training her body, both mentally and physically, for the moment she would walk again, a moment doctors claimed would never come.

She’s restored function in her arms, core, hip, pelvic area and quadriceps, and soon she will accomplish yet another amazing feat.

Plans are in place to have Paradis participate in a home study that would allow researchers to track her progress with the ground-breaking exoskeleton for a one-year period. The study will measure the changes in Paradis’ circulation and bone density, and assist in the development of an exoskeleton for household use.

“She is the only Canadian that will be doing the research for the home version at this point,” said Belliveau.

Belliveau says public reception to a fundraiser launched to help FootPrints acquire a $5,000 down payment for the exoskeleton by March 6 was well received, making it possible for the not-for-profit organization to arrange for the device to ship March 13.

Belliveau is proud to report that FootPrints will be the second facility in the country to acquire an exoskeleton, a device that offers select individuals living with paralysis the opportunity to improve their overall well being one step at a time.

“We’re pretty excited and it should be exciting for the town and for the province as a whole,” she said.

FootPrints must come up with another $75,000 for the exoskeleton to be paid off. For more information, visit: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/-let-s-get-amy-walking-/138717 or http://sci-recovery.ca.

Geographic location: California, Windsor

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