Mark Pollock launches robotics rehabilitation programme at DCU

Exoskeleton allows people affected by paralysis to walk upright inside robotic frame

Mark Pollock demonstrates the Exoskeleton robotic frame at Dublin City Universit

Mark Pollock demonstrates the Exoskeleton robotic frame at Dublin City Universit

 

Celebrated adventurer and motivational speaker Mark Pollock joined researchers from Dublin City University on Wednesday to launch the college’s Exoskeleton programme.

The programme will provide free access to robotic rehabilitation for people who have been affected by paralysis.

The physiotherapist-led service will enable participants – whose paralysis may be due to spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease – to complete sessions of supported walking using the Ekso Bionics Exoskeleton.

The Exoskeleton allows the patient to walk upright inside a robotic frame that attaches to the body. As well as assisting with rehabilitation, it delivers many of the health benefits to patients that regular walking provides.

Mr Pollock, who is blind, was paralysed in a fall from a second-story window in 2010. He has competed in ultra-endurance races

“Finding a cure for paralysis is a human crisis requiring people to work together across geographical, organisational and intellectual boundaries,” Mr Pollock said in a statement. “So, I’m focused on catalysing collaborations that have never been done before to make that cure a reality.”

Pollack worked extensively with US-based Ekso Bionics to test the components used to develop the robotic frame. He has taken more than 1.5 million steps in the device.

The programme is part of a larger initiative at the university to establish a research centre excelling in robotic interventions in neurorehabilitation with the ultimate goal of finding a cure for paralysis.

“By combining these disciplines and our team’s extensive knowledge of neurological injury and neurorehabilitation, we aim to make a meaningful impact into the research of better therapies for paralysis now and into the future,” said Ronan Langan, the clinical lead for the DCU Exoskeleton programme.

“Through initiatives such as the Exoskeleton programme, DCU is delivering on its mission to transform lives and societies,” added DCU president Brian MacCraith.