Sheehan Part Of Trial For Walking Device


Former Lambert native Taylor Sheehan was all smiles when she tried out the Indego Exoskeleton in Arizona. (Submitted)

For Taylor Sheehan, Monday has turned out to be the best day of the week.

Sheehan, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a one-vehicle accident on March 7, 2010, has been walking with the aid of an Indego Exoskeleton each of the last several Mondays as part of a trial study.

The Lambert High School graduate is enjoying taking part in the study at the St. Joseph's Outpatient Rehabilitation Center in Phoenix.

"It makes me realize how wonderful it is to walk again," Sheehan said.

She was told by her primary care doctor, who is one of the researchers for the trial, that Sheehan was a candidate to be a subject if she passed a physical therapy evaluation. On May 2, Sheehan took part in the trial for the initial time.

"It's for them to determine how much effort it takes to use the Indego Exoskeleton," Sheehan, 22, explained. "They want you to be able to use it completely independently."

On that day, Sheehan took 400 steps during an hour and a half. "At first, I was afraid. It's almost scary to stand up again. Shortly after that, I had a smile on my face for a long time."

The following Monday, she more than doubled that amount to almost 1,000 steps.

"How much I improved makes me excited," she noted. "My therapist said it seems like I have been using it for much longer."

Sheehan said that after the FDA approved the device in February, sales have been hectic in Europe. "They are being back ordered," she noted. Sheehan can take part in seven trial tests.

She said the devices cost an estimated $80,000. "That's a lot of money to pay for the price of walking," Sheehan noted.

She is hopeful that because her physician suggested the trial, she might receive some insurance funds for a possible purchase.

Sheehan said the battery life is currently eight hours but may eventually increase to most of the day.

"The idea is to have it for every day use," she explained. "For right now, it's a great form of exercise and for getting from point A to point B for independence."

Four years ago, Sheehan received the opportunity to use eLegs at Craig's Hospital in Colorado. She said the two devices are similar, but the Indego Exoskeleton is lighter and smoother. In addition, a monitor establishes pace and lengths of steps.

"I never felt during my first 16 years, I would be this excited to walk again," Sheehan said. "It really puts in prospective how lucky I was to walk."

She is amazed how much technology has improved in this area during the last six years. "Who knows what could happen next? I think I have a lot of hope to get out of the wheelchair," she added.

Sheehan, who works as a nail technician at a salon in Tempe, Ariz., continues with her efforts to stress the importance of wearing seatbelts, not to drink and drive and not to use devices while driving that distract.

"Here I am every day thinking how my life could be different without one bad decision," Sheehan said.

Because of the trial study, Taylor Sheehan was able to stand next to her roommate for the first time. (Submitted)


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