Barrow Studying Robotic Exoskeleton to Help Paralyzed Individuals Walk

Barrow Neurological Institute is helping paralyzed individuals walk again through an innovative technology and research study that is expected to pave the way for new advancements in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

Barrow, which is part of Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, is one of two sites in the United States to use the Indego exoskeleton, a robotic device that allows paralyzed individuals to stand and walk, to study how much energy is used while walking in the exoskeleton. The research study puts Barrow on the forefront of testing novel rehabilitation technology to offer more efficient therapies to its spinal cord injury patients.


“In order to gain a better understanding of what impact this new technology may have on health and fitness parameters for patients with spinal cord injuries, assessments must be conducted to measure metabolic rates while these patients are walking”, says Dr. Candyce Williams, medical director of Outpatient Neuro Rehabilitation at Barrow and the principal investigator for this study. “We’re working to determine if there are changes in our patients cardiorespiratory and metabolic activity occur during exoskeleton walking.”

The Indego is giving paralyzed patients like Taylor Sheehan hope that they will one day walk again. Sheehan, who is enrolled in the research trial at Barrow, recently took her first step in six years thanks to the 26-pound, battery-powered, app-controlled device.

“When I was injured six years ago, I was told I would never walk again,” says Sheehan. “I never thought there would be some type of technology where I would be able to stand and walk. I’m excited to see what will happen in the coming years with this amazing device.”

The Indego is one of two exoskeleton devices to recently receive FDA approval for home use, which allows many spinal cord injury patients the ability to walk on their own at home. Prior to the FDA’s approval, exoskeletons were only approved for hospital use.

“We are proud to be part of this clinical trial to learn more about the Indego’s use and benefits for patients like Taylor,” says Dr. Williams. “This is a revolutionary technology that will give our patients independence again.”

SEE THE 12 NEWS STORY: Watch Taylor walk: ‘I didn’t think anything like this was possible’