Modern technology helps local man walk again

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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — One year after being paralyzed in a construction accident, technology has a local man back on his feet.

“It’s a big day today!”

Douglas Avreu came to the Capital Region from Brazil in 2016. A year ago, he was working on a construction site. While building a wall, he fell from the third floor and suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. It was his faith that got him through those early weeks.

“Yeah, if you have faith in God, you need to keep fighting for everything,” he said.

In October, Doug was introduced to the ReWalk Personal Robotic Exoskeleton. He uses a watch-like device that sends signals to motors at his hips and knees to control his movements.

And now, he’s back on his feet.

“In about 20 to 30 sessions of using the machine, he became completely proficient and independent at being able to walk with it, to stand with it, to use it to walk outside, inside, use it in the grass,” Sunnyview physical therapist Cono Cirone said. “We walked up and down the hill.”

Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital has a partnership with ReWalk and has used their exoskeletons in the Physical Therapy Department.

“The device obviously gives individuals with spinal cord injury kind of a new lease on life, I like to say,” ReWalk Robotics Business Development Manager Lauren Pelttier said. “It allows them to be upright and ambulatory both at home and out in the community. It’s not only for the health benefits but also being at eye level and the confidence again and the quality of life that able bodied people sometimes take for granted.”

Doug was identified as a perfect candidate for home use, and Tuesday, he took one home.

“It’s very exciting because when I was in the hospital, they said maybe you won’t walk again, and now, I’m able to see my legs moving, and it’s amazing,” he said.

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