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Published:July 3rd, 2011 18:58 EST
Matt Stevens, NFL Paraplegic Becomes Bionic Man, Walks Again

Matt Stevens, NFL Paraplegic Becomes Bionic Man, Walks Again

By Alan Gray

When Matt Stevens, an eight season NFL standout, suffered a major spinal cord injury in a 2007 motorcycle accident, it seemed he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

The hard-hitting safety earned a Super Bowl ring and was honored in an NFL tribute video, having played 108 games for the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots and Houston Texans. Fans all over had reason to care about Stevens and be sad about what happened to him.

Stevens` injury was debilitating. A severe spinal cord injury paralyzed him from the chest down. Both his shoulders were broken, both lungs punctured, his heart bruised and he had multiple internal injuries. The prospects didn`t look good.

But the human body and mind are amazingly resilient, when you have inner strength and especially when you have the support of friends and family.

After three years in a wheelchair, Matt Stevens can stand and move again, like a bionic man, without his wheelchair.

Living in Philadelphia, Stevens attends ReWalk therapy three times a week at MossRehab, in Elkins Park, at the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network. MossRehab says they are conducting clinical trials of ReWalk, a "motorized, quasi-robotic, lightweight, wearable brace support suit with powered joints, rechargeable batteries, an array of sensors and a computer-based patient control system."

ReWalk is worn around the legs and back and fits closely to the body on top of everyday clothing. Once upright, the patient uses crutches for stability and can initiate and control movements through simple body language to control the legs.

Stevens says ReWalk has improved his mental attitude, because it "enables me to focus on what I can do, instead of what I can`t do." He says it is "exhilarating and motivating just to be able to stand up from my wheelchair and walk upright."

"I have my fiancée and my family to thank for their encouragement to try ReWalk and to reinforce my strength and determination. I`m thrilled to be able to participate in this trial at MossRehab, and I hope that in some way, I can help to advance the development of ReWalk, so other paraplegics can have the chance to walk again." - Matt Stevens

The ReWalk was designed by Argo Medical Technologies, in Haifa, Israel. It is really the first significant mobility development since the first molded plastic leg braces in the 1970s. MossRehab is renowned internationally in the rehabilitation arena, because of its comprehensive clinical rehabilitation and research programs, that have a special focus on medical and cognitive rehabilitation and problems with movement. Dr. Alberto Esquenazi, MD, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at MossRehab helped develop ReWalk and is now leading the ReWalk clinical trials.

Matt Stevens can once again walk. Our Bionic Man is again an inspiration to us all.

 



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