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New Device Helps Burke Patient Walk Again

Rusty Chmelovsky
Rusty Chmelovsky Photo Credit: Contributed

Rusty Chmelovsky was given the perfect holiday gift this year.

Chmelovsky, 39, a patient at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, has a ReWalk robotic exoskeleton device, a wearable exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable the individual to stand upright, walk and turn.

Chmelovsky was working in construction in 2008, when he fell 32 feet off a roof, suffering a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Post-injury, Rusty was involved in various therapies, interventions, and treatments at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital.

At Burke, his therapist was able to identify that he was a candidate for robotics. With a ReWalk robotic exoskeleton device as the goal, Chmelovsky, and his therapist worked on developing his upper body strength, flexibility and ability to stand upright.

After being approved for the device, Chmelovsky then began the process of learning the basic and advanced skills required to ultimately take his ReWalk device home.

“When I was first injured, I held on to hope that someday there would be a way for me to walk again," Chmelovsky said. "Walking with the device has allowed me to regain sensation in muscles in my body that I have not felt since before my accident.

Chmelovsky's rehabilitation process included learning to put on and remove, as well as stop and start the ReWalk, stand and sit independently, walk with supervision and navigate up and down inclines and through simulated household spaces.

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