July 24, 2015      

Three years ago, Cory Cook was paralyzed from the chest down during a swimming accident. Doctors told Cook, who lives in New Hampshire, he would never walk again.

Then he was introduced to the ReWalk Robotics exoskeleton while at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Cambridge, MA. The ReWalk exoskeleton consists of a customized metal brace that supports the legs and part of the upper body, motors that supply movement at the hips, knees, and ankles, a tilt sensor, and a backpack that contains the computer and power supply.

Crutches provide the user with additional stability when walking, standing, and rising up from a chair. Using a wireless remote control worn on the wrist, the user commands ReWalk to stand up, sit down or walk.

“It changes the perspective that you have on the years to come,” Cook tells CBS Boston. “Before as I was looking at those years from a seated position, now I can look at those years from a vertical position.”

This also marks the first time that private, commercial insurance has agreed to cover the cost of the exoskeleton, which costs about $70,000. “Health insurance companies can have an open mind and look to the future,” he says, “And see this is a good piece of equipment and the health benefits will save them money in the long-run.”

ReWalk is the first exoskeleton approved by the FDA for personal use in the community and Cory is the first Spaulding patient to complete training with it.

Watch the video below to learn more about Cook’s story.