George Stewart sits in his wheelchair wearing the Indego exoskeleton. His wife Paula secures straps, checks foot placement, and centers a walker in front of him. George clicks a button on his hip and says, “We’re going green, Paula!” then leans forward and pushes up, triggering the Indego and George to stand. George exclaims, “I’m up, I’m out of this chair, I’ve got freedom again.”
George and Paula have come a long way since 2013 when George was in a work accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down after being run over by a tractor trailer. “I spent nine weeks in the ICU, then three and a half months at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA. I’ve done quite a bit of therapy to get me to this point,” George shares. “The Shepherd Center is where I first saw Indego. But I was afraid that insurance wouldn’t approve it for me, so I just left it alone.”
Fast forward nearly five years to South Charleston, West Virginia.“I brought my uncle to his appointment at First Settlement Physical Therapy and saw Lyle training with the Indego. I learned that Lyle got insurance approval for his Indego because of his work injury, so I decided to try and get one too.” George presented his case and information about Indego to his insurance company and two weeks later he received a call telling him he was approved. “I was astonished, believe me, quite astonished!”
When describing his Indego training program, George shares, “It’s been hard at times, then it eases back up. But anything you do with a spinal cord injury is going to be hard to begin with, I don’t care what it is. I remember being at Shepherd Center flat on my back, trach in, couldn’t roll over, couldn’t sit up. Was it hard? Yeah! But with five days of therapy per week I found ways to work through it. Same thing with Indego.”
George trained using Indego five days per week for an hour per session. After mastering all the basic skills and knowledge required for Check-Off Day, George and his wife were cleared to take the Indego home for personal use on December 3, 2019. George grins and says,"I’ve got a Christmas time surprise planned. My family lives 130 miles away but we’re all getting together for Christmas. My Indego has been a well-kept secret. A hard-kept secret, but a well-kept secret. Paula and I will sneak off into a separate room to put it on, then walk into the living room where the family is for quite a surprise.” George and Paula share huge smiles and laughter as they share their plans for the big day. “My mother is 91 and it will be quite a shock and surprise for her to see me standing up again. It will be quite a shock for everyone! What their reactions will be, I have no idea.”
About the Author:
Robert McCloskey is a Physical Therapist and Indego Specialist working with the Janz Corporation, A Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business. Robert earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Georgia Southern University, and his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Kansas Medical Center. Robert has a background in treating individuals with neuromuscular disorders and traumatic brain injuries, and now works with the Indego team educating clinicians and patients on the use and benefits of Indego.