Indego Walking Device – How I Fell Apart and I Survived


September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month

There are approximately 200,000 people living with spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the United States.

Every 48 seconds in our country, a person becomes paralyzed. A majority of injuries occur from motor vehicle accidents, falls, work-related accidents, and sports injuries.

From a wheelchair to robotics, this is ME surviving and giving it my best WALK.

Indego Walking Device – How I Fell Apart and I Survived

Early October 2016, nine years after i suffered a Spinal Cord Injury I was invited  to work with one of the leading rehabilitation centers. Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, CA is evolving the standard of care for modern gait training and demonstrating the benefits of Indego walking device for use in therapy and at home. Once I was approved and cleared by my doctor to participate in this 60 session training I was anxious, thrilled and very hopeful about this new adventure.  Never did I ever imagine I would be a human robot walking in my lifetime. The Indego robotic exoskeleton has opened a new door for people with paraplegia due to spinal cord injury with an opportunity to suit up and “walk” into the future.

(first day- october 2016 265 steps / 9 minutes on device)

It took a few weeks to adapt to using the Indego walking device without any fear. My therapist continually encouraged me to be as actively engaged as possible. I had to learn to trust the device and initiate the movement, control the speed, stride length, and step height. Not only did I have to overcome physical challenges but I also had to overcome and move beyond all the mix of emotional feelings this new experience was bringing into my life. Although I was feeling empowered and strong, at times I was also filled with frustration, anxiety, sadness and doubts whether my body would physically and emotionally be capable to do go through this training. Feelings began to surface about all I had lost physically and what I now had to battle through. However, I am strong enough to know this is a normal way to feel after all I am not a “robot” I am a human being. This moment was a blessing, and I chose not to listen to the voices in my head, and I continued for the next six months of transformation.

(Dec. 2016 639 Steps / 17:39 mins. on device)

The Indego device felt safe, comfortable and more familiar after the 11 session. We were becoming ONE, just as I had to get acquainted and adapt to the wheelchair, I also had to do the same with the Indego. My group of amazing female therapist and I would set out new weekly goals to increase the number of steps, increase the time in the device and new terrain to conquer. From walking up and down ramps, over grass, over puddles of water to using it in public places such as at the Los Angeles 2017 Abilities Expo and Rancho Los Amigos Annual Amistad Gala.

(march 2017- advancing to crutches)

There are so many benefits using the Indego robotic exoskeleton. Physically my body is in full body work out mode from my head to my feet. Nerves on my legs are reacting to the pressure applied in every single step. To feel sweat drip down my back never thought i would say its an amazing feeling, it is my body communicating that i am putting it to work to its full potential. Training a minimum 3 days a week for a minimum of 20 minutes on the device and minor changes in my diet I have lost a noticeable amount of weight. Not only has my body changed but also using the robotic exoskeleton has tremendously helped with my bowel program and digestive system. My program flows on a more consistent basis and I do not feel as bloaded.

Let’s face it, it is not easy living with this condition, living with a spinal cord injury at some point will bring on anxiety and depression. I can honestly say that after using the device anxiety levels  have decreased and there is improvement in my mental state of mind. My body is fully engaged in activity, it’s fatigued and i am getting better sleep at night. I  feel great about myself and how far i have come in this journey.  My friends can cofirm this! I gained a new sense of confidence knowing i and  hundreds of more paralyzed individuals have an option. We have an option to get up, walk , stand and look at people in the eyes with confidence. To me it makes my situation feel less hopeless and instead it becomes  empowering and motivating  to keep pushing the boundaries in science and technology. There is so much hope for the future of paralysis, science and techology, It was an honor to have been a part of the evolution.

The Rancho Los Amigos Amistad Gala in March 2017 was celebration of the Intelligence, Inspiration, and Innovation that is Rancho Los Amigos! It was such an honor to be invited and give a live presentation demonstratring the exo-skeleton mentioned in the article below. It was an amazing opportunity to showcase this wonderful piece of technology that is making such a positive impact in the lives of people with a physical disability .

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Robotics advances could lead to engineering solutions for paralyzed people: Keck School of Medicine of USC is among developers of a brain-machine device for those with spinal cord injuries.

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Indego® is a powered lower limb exoskeleton enabling people with spinal cord injuries to walk and participate in over-ground gait training.

A clinical trial of a robotic exoskeleton at Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilation Center in Downey, CA shows the device is safe and effective in assisting standing and walking in persons with paraplegia on both indoor and outdoor surfaces. While other exoskeletons are being used in rehabilitation settings, there are several features about the Indego device that set it apart.

  • it is about half the weight of other exoskeleton devices.
  • Indego can be disassembled into five pieces for easier portability.
  • Users find the Indego operation is straightforward and logical.
  • Indego was developed specifically to be appropriate for personal use as a means of both standing and walking in home and community settings.
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Cynthia Ramirez

Brand Builder
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I am a creative-artistic person; love everything from beauty, fashion, photography, to dance music & poetry. As a young girl I wanted to be a business woman, to be my own boss doing something creative, a photographer, song writer, writer or editor of a fashion magazine.

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