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2 August 2019, 08:08 | Updated: 2 August 2019, 08:25
A groundbreaking trial at Kent and Cantebury hospital which uses a robotic exoskeleton is helping patients with weakening conditions like Multiple Sclerosis to learn to balance and walk again, and strengthen their bodies.
People from Scotland, Suffolk, London, Surrey, Essex and Berkshire are all travelling to the hospital to take part in the first of its kind resaerch
Patients, who would normally rely on walking aids like sicks and frame to get around, are secured inside the suit, which supports their weight, and allows them to exercise safely. They do five intensive sessions inside the suit, walking backwards and forwards, and doing things like lifting weights and throwing and catching.
The team says results so far have been positive, with one man, who had previously had to lean heavily on two sticks to walk now planning to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding later this month thanks to his progress in the trial.
Neruo-rehabilitaton Director at the hospital, Dr Mohammed Sakel said it had the potential to improve the lives of hundre of patients.
He said: “At times, we encounter patients who have been told that nothing can be done and now we have an opportunity to give them the option of something that could make a real difference to their lives.
“We are enabling patients to rediscover muscles and movement that may have become somewhat lost over time. They are re-learning how to balance and to move more easily.
“The machine takes away the risk of falling and the fear that accompanies it and allows people to become confident in a safe environment. They can retrain their muscles and build up their strength so they are able to realise the benefits outside of the machine as well.
The trial has recruited 20 patients and, when the results are analysed, it could become available to patients outside of research, if the benefits are proven.