SoldierStrong donated an EksoGT Suit exoskeleton to the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System today.
“This is an incredible day for our veterans,” said Rima Nelson, director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System. “We’re beyond grateful for this generous donation that will make such a difference in the lives of our veterans as they continue their rehabilitation.”
U.S. Army Reserves veteran Dan Rose, who was paralyzed from the chest down when an 1,100-pound improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated near him while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2011, demonstrated the exoskeleton that will be used by patients at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center.
Noting the exoskeleton has provided significant physical and mental health benefits for him, Rose predicted others would experience similar results.
“I had given up on walking and thought of it as a pipe dream, so to be able to stand on my own two feet and walk across a room was a very emotional experience. The first time I stood up I realized I’d forgotten what it was like to be eye level with everyone. It was like standing on top of a mountain,” said Rose, who will throw out the first pitch at tonight’s Arizona Diamondbacks-New York Yankees game at Chase Field. “I guarantee that this donation will change lives because it will provide a spark of hope and rekindle enthusiasm for the future.”
Since the nonprofit’s inception following the tragic events of 9/11, SoldierStrong has donated more than $3 million of medical devices to help injured veterans. Today’s donation marks the organization’s 20th exoskeleton donation. It is the 16th exoskeleton donation to the VA system.
“Today’s contribution marks a significant milestone. It represents a doubling of our initial commitment to donate 10 such high-tech medical devices to benefit our country’s injured veterans,” said Chris Meek, SoldierStrong co-founder. “We’re extremely proud to help as many veterans as we can so that they will experience the physical and emotional benefits of standing and walking again.”
Nationwide, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been studying the impact that exoskeletons have in rehabilitation and on the physical well-being and mental health of paralyzed veterans. Of particular interest is whether the loss of bone density and muscle atrophy can be slowed or reversed as patients make regular use of the devices to move around.