Paralysed woman finishes 42 kilometre marathon with bionic suit11 May 2012
Claire Lomas, who was a chiropractor before a horse riding accident in 2007 paralysed her from the chest down, was never expected to walk again, let alone complete a marathon, which is what she proudly did this week.
Together with the assistance of a bionic walking suit, Claire trained to compete in the London Marathon, which consists of 42.2 kilometres, and at times she thought she wasn’t going to make it, but after taking it one step at a time, literally, her dream came closer to reality.
The bionic walking suit, which is called the ReWalk, was created by an Israeli entrepreneur, Amit Goffer, who was paralysed in a car accident in 1997. Amit thought there was a gap in the market for people with disabilities, and wanted to advance on the concept of the wheelchair.
Although he can’t use the contraption himself, due to the lack of upper body strength required to control the ReWalk, Amit is happy to see the satisfaction people who have been affected by paralysis experience when they first walk again after an accident.
The $65,000 machine, which was recently appeared on an episode of the hit show ‘Glee’, is the first of its kind, and is controlled through a combination of its operator, an on-board computer system and motion sensors, and is able to allow the operator to stand, walk and climb stairs.
Claire began the London Marathon with around 36,000 other competitors last month, while everyone else completed the course in the same day, Claire had to break up her walking to about 3.2 kms per day, amongst 17 days. She is the first paralysed person ever to complete a marathon in a bionic suit.
Accompanied by her parents, husband and 1 year old daughter, Claire crossed the finish line 16 days after everyone else. She made her way to the finish line past hundreds of bystanders, who were cheering her on, along with three mounted members of the Household Cavalry, who gave her a guard of honour upon completion of the course.
The 32 year old mother was ‘over the moon’ to have finished the marathon. Although she completed the whole course, Claire will not appear in the official results of the marathon and won’t receive a medal, because she didn’t finish on the same day, as the rules state. Out of respect, other competitors of the marathon gave Claire their own medals to keep.
Claire managed to raise $137,237 for a charity which funds research to help find advancements in the treatment of paralysis. She chose to donate to this particular charity because of the fantastic support she’s received since her accident, and she feels that a cure for spinal cord injury is well overdue.
To read more about Claire’s achievements, and to see the ReWalk in action, click here: http://mashable.com/2012/05/08/paralyzed-woman-marathon-bionic-suit/