65-Year-Old Woman Becomes First Paralyzed Veteran To Finish Marathon With Robotic Exoskeleton
Retired Army Sergeant Theresa Vereline is now the first paralyzed veteran to finish a marathon using a robotic exoskeleton. Theresa is also the first paralyzed person, in general, to cross the finish line at all at the New York City Marathon. Theresa finished the first 10-mile stretch through each of the 5 boroughs of New York City over the course of 3 days. The veteran then crossed the finish line on November 3rd at 6:35 PM.
Theresa did not use a wheelchair for the marathon and instead used an exoskeleton from ReWalk. This suit is designed to help paraplegics move without the need for crutches or a wheelchair. ReWalk Robotics Ltd. makes a number of different suits for those who have lower limb disabilities as a result of a spinal cord injury or stroke.
This robotic exoskeleton is the way of the future for many disabled vets
“Words cannot express the feelings I had crossing the finish line,” Theresa says in a statement following the marathon. “This has been a dream of mine, and I hope I can serve as an inspiration to others that you too can achieve what seems like the impossible — especially all of the disabled children I meet across the country.”
Theresa became paralyzed back in 2011 and has been using ReWalk Robotics since 2012. It allows her to stand and walk on a regular basis and has changed her life.
“Ever since the day I stood up in the ReWalk for the first time, opportunities I never thought I’d have again were laid out before me,” she says.
Theresa continues, “I trained hard and was able to achieve something amazing. And I am grateful for the chance to be able to stand and walk again every day.”
Robotic company acknowledges Theresa’s achievements
Andy Dolan, ReWalk’s vice president of marketing learned of Theresa’s accomplishment. He said in a statement, “We are incredibly proud of her. Her achievement at the marathon and her efforts to help others with disability are inspirations to us all.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has established a national procurement policy for retired veterans so that they can receive the same exoskeleton device to help them better their quality of life.
Robotic companies like ReWalk, Ekso Bionics, Rex Bionics, and SuitX are all releasing different suit designs to help disabled people feel more themselves again. We hope to see these exoskeleton designs become a lot more mainstream as time goes on! Check out footage from the marathon below where Theresa crushes it and crosses the finish line!
This story originally appeared at Do You Remember by Jane Kenney.