Claire Lomas, a 36-year-old woman who is 16 weeks pregnant, recently completed the Great North Run, the largest half marathon in the world that takes place each September in North East England.
Lomas has also been paralyzed from the chest down since 2007 following a horseback riding accident.
Lomas used an exoskeleton from ReWalk Robotics to help her complete the 13-mile journey over five days. She also had help from her husband, Dan, who was behind her each step of the way. Lomas walked about three miles per day, beating the heat, hills, and injuries throughout the half marathon.
She said she struggled to train for the event because of morning sickness. Lomas told the BBC that even standing in the suit isn’t easy. “It’s taken some learning. It’s not just physical work, it’s the concentration with every step,” she said. “It doesn’t just walk for me. I have to use the parts that aren’t paralyzed to make it walk.”
In 2012, Lomas completed the London Marathon in 17 days. She finished in last place, but she inspired people along the way and became the first person in the world to complete the London Marathon in an exoskeleton.
ReWalk recently announced that it sold its 100th personal exoskeleton. ReWalk’s Personal 6.0 provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with spinal cord injury to stand upright and walk. ReWalk is the first exoskeleton system to receive FDA clearance for use in the home as well as in the rehabilitation setting. The Personal 6.0 exoskeleton offers the fastest walking speed (up to 1.6 MPH) and the most precise fit of any ReWalk exoskeleton to date.
In December 2015, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will start covering the cost of ReWalk exoskeleton for eligible paralyzed veterans. The VA policy was the first national coverage policy in the US for qualifying individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries. The policy provides eligible veterans access to referral and evaluation at all designated ReWalk Training Centers across the country.