“Words Can’t Express My Feelings”: a paralyzed US veteran overcame an exoskeleton marathon

She became the first paralyzed person to walk the distance with an exoskeleton.

Photo CBS News

US Army sergeant retired Terry Hannigan Verelayn successfully overcome the marathon in New York with the help of a robotic exoskeleton. The 65-year-old veteran covered 42 kilometers in three days.

According to Verelain, she always wanted to overcome the marathon, but did not believe that it was possible for her. After serving in Vietnam, a woman was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a rare inflammatory disease associated with the chemicals she worked with in the army.

In 2011, due to the disease, the veteran was paralyzed below the chest. However, as early as next year, Verelain began using the exoskeleton of ReWalk Robotics, with which she overcame the marathon in New York.

Terry Hannigan Werelayn at the New York Marathon CBS Photo

After the finish, she noted that words cannot express her feelings. The veteran told how long she dreamed of overcoming the marathon, but did not think that it was possible for her.

Do not give up. I can do the same things as before. You just need to find another way to do this.

Terry Hannigan Wereline

Wereline noted that she was grateful to ReWalk for the opportunity to stand and walk again, despite the need for serious training. At first, she had to take hour classes three times a week to learn how to at least keep a balance while standing.

When you sit in a wheelchair for a long time, and then get up and sit down, blood pressure drops, so you need to accustom the body to this. Once you get used to it and your vital signs are normal, you will begin to take steps, one at a time. By the end of the month, I went without help.

Terry Hannigan Wereline

As the woman noted, for the first time she was very afraid to use ReWalk. When the device was turned on, she took only a step and that’s it.

I stood on my two legs. I could look people in the eye. I could hug and touch them.

Terry Hannigan Wereline

As Wereline explained, ReWalk was the only company that helped her for free. At the time of writing, 500 ReWalk exoskeletons are being used in US hospitals, with the largest customer community being the veteran community. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has developed an entire procurement policy whereby retired military can get an exoskeleton if they are paralyzed.

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