Exoskeleton is helping stroke survivors learn how to walk again

Posted at 11:56 PM, Oct 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-28 01:07:49-04

INDIANAPOLIS --An exoskeleton is an external skeleton that supports and protects an animal's body. In Michael Parson's case, it's a device that's helping him learn how to walk again.

Parson suffered a stroke in January and he was up and moving that same day. 

"I didn't know. I didn't know I was having a stroke at all. I didn't know what a stroke was. I didn't know I was a candidate for one," said Michael.

"Stroke is a lack of blood flow ot the brain caused by a blood clot so you actually get damage to the brain that controls muscles to the opposite side of the body," said Sachin Mehta, Franciscan Health Rehabilitation Director.

Michael's stroke left him with no control over his left side. Today, his hand is mostly motionless.

But with the help of an exoskeleton, he and his physical therapists are teaching his brain and body to walk again. 

"It's a game-changer in rehab. It gets people up and moving a lot smoother than they would have been after a stroke. It's actually FDA approved for stroke rehabilitation," said Mehta.

Michael's goal is to get back to work full-time with the use of both his arm and leg. In the meantime, he's keeping a positive attitude.

"You gotta be happy about it because you're alive and it's just another step in the road. Yep. I don't know why it happened but it did so I gotta deal with it," said Michael.

Mehta says the exoskeleton has proved to increase the quality of life for his patients by giving them better balance, better endurance and eventually more independence.