The Irish Injured Jockeys have announced that they have purchased an Exoskeleton suit to help with the rehabilitation of injured riders who have suffered lower extremity paralysis, writes RON McKNIGHT.
The investment was made some time ago and the suit has been in situ in Neurokinex in Co Antrim for the past number of weeks.
Neurokinex is a specialist rehabilitation centre that has more of a gym-like look and feel than a hospital which was important to the board of IIJ.
The first jockey to use this piece of equipment is Templepatrick based, Jonjo Bright who suffered severe injuries from a fall in March 2013.
The suit enables Jonjo to stand in an upright position and to use his own body weight to walk in the machine with the guidance of a physio trained in Ekso Bionics also funded by the IIJ.
The suit has had major and immediate positive effects in terms of breathing and blood pressure whilst reducing muscle wastage, increasing bone density and like any form of exercise the endorphins it helps produce have superb psychological benefits also.
Speaking at a private demonstration Jonjo Bright said: “In a way we are exploring the unknown. It’s massive that the Irish Injured jockeys have bought this piece of equipment, this is what I was dreaming of. It allows me to literally step into the unknown.”
The cost for such a robotic therapy device is expensive, not to mention training the correct personnel in becoming highly proficient in operating the Exoskeleton suit and ensuring supervision of each individual session.
For Irish Injured Jockeys and Jonjo Bright the benefits of such a device far out-weigh the cost involved.
Ruby Walsh, chairman of Irish Injured Jockeys, said: “It is important that people know that Irish Injured Jockeys is 100% funded by public donations and fundraising events. Without this support we simply could not support our injured jockeys efficiently.
“There are lots of ways to help through donation, volunteering, fundraising or buying online, for this information and to see Jonjo walking in the exoskeleton suit visit irishinjuredjockeys.com.”