Bid for bionic suit to help paralysed Sheffield patients walk

Claire Lomas trains for the London Marathon in a bionic ReWalk suit with physiotherapist Matt White in lanes near Hull. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 19, 2012. Claire will become the first person to attempt to complete 26 miles using a bionic ReWalk suit. See PA story SPORT Marathon. Photo credit should read: John Giles/PA Wire
Claire Lomas trains for the London Marathon in a bionic ReWalk suit with physiotherapist Matt White in lanes near Hull. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 19, 2012. Claire will become the first person to attempt to complete 26 miles using a bionic ReWalk suit. See PA story SPORT Marathon. Photo credit should read: John Giles/PA Wire
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PARALYSED patients at Sheffield’s Spinal Injuries Unit could have the chance to walk again thanks to a revolutionary bionic suit.

Doctors and managers at the unit, based at the Northern General Hospital, are fundraising to buy the Ekso skeleton - a suit with motorised joints which gives patients the chance to walk.

A similar suit was used by 32-year-old Claire Lomas to complete the London Marathon over 16 days in April.

Claire, from Leicestershire, was treated at the Sheffield unit in 2007 - one of the largest spinal centres in the country - after she was left paralysed in a horse-riding accident.

The suit - which costs around £100,000 - was demonstrated at the Northern General, where patients Stephane Chapron and Richard Nuttman had the chance to try it out.

Richard, aged 35, from Sheffield, lost the use of his legs following a road traffic accident in 2006.

He said: “I am always sceptical before trying anything like this, but I was amazed at how easy myself and others got up and started walking. It was easier than using a wheelchair.

“I really hope that we get one of these in Sheffield. The health and psychological benefits are massive.

“It will encourage people to do more rehab and exercise.”

Nathan Timmis, service manager in specialised rehabilitation at the unit is helping raise funds by doing a sponsored 100-mile bike ride.

He said: “After watching people use the Ekso skeleton and talking to clinicians about the health benefits it was clear that we, as a specialist centre, should get one of these. “

To support the appeal call 0114 2711351 or visit www.justgiving.com/ekso.