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Thread: 'Batman suit' gives paralyzed 5-year-old the ability to walk

  1. #1

    'Batman suit' gives paralyzed 5-year-old the ability to walk

    'Batman suit' gives paralyzed 5-year-old the ability to walk
    By Susan Christensen
    Health and Research News Service

    Its official name is the Otto Bock Reciprocating Gait Orthosis, which is too much of a mouthful for 5-year-old Michael Johnson Jr. of Monroe.
    So he calls his new trunk-to-heel brace system his "Batman suit." The name reflects Michael's fascination with super heroes, but this suit's "powers" aren't just make-believe. When the partially paralyzed youngster wears the brace, he can walk.


    "I think that it's the best thing that we live in an age now where we have the technology to do that," said his dad Michael Johnson Sr. "I can't wait to see the next generation."

    Chris Wallace, director of Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetics in Monroe, said Michael became the second person in the United States to be fitted with Otto Bock's innovative system, caused in part by Methodist's collaborative relationship with the international company.


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    last house on the left
    I don't know if I am going to get a lot of heat for this or not, but I actually find this story sort of depressing. It feels implied to me that this child just could never "get where he needs to go" using a wheelchair, and that there is a subtle collusion as to how wonderful this whole rig is because it makes him more like the other kids in his class. It does not, of course, but that is the message. I can see it as good exercise equipment, but it looks more awkward and less freeing than a normal wheelchair to me.

  3. #3

    Ultimately, it's a matter of choice. I agree with you, I'd rather sit in a wheelchair than be constrained into that contraption all day.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Imight's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Cool article. Because he is so young, this may actually benefit him (reprogram during growth?).

    I think I would use it. I hate this dumb chair, Id rather stand up tall, like Im supposed.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Imight
    I think I would use it. I hate this dumb chair, Id rather stand up tall, like Im supposed.
    You say that until you're strapped into a robotic contraption with points sticking into your sides and you can't quickly get out of it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Oakville, Ontario
    I think this story this says more about typical media hype/distortion when they cover stories about disability (a pet peeve of mine ).

    RGOs have been around for quite a while, it just seems like Otto Bock has made minor improvements. They take a huge amount of energy to function in but they're appropriate for some users, often kids with spina bifida.

    So of course the media can't help focusing on how this is way cooler than a wheelchair and helps the kid feel more "normal". Sigh.

    Batman suit, not. But actually, I clicked on the article because I'm interested to see if robotics and other sciences are making progress towards a practical "exoskeleton" suit, with lightwight materials and iBot-like balancing technology. (If the current clunky stuff can be thought of as "version 1.0", maybe version 12.0 could be a real help.) A wearable wheelchair is worth working towards. Though it'd probably be more feasible for paras, not someone with my level.

  7. #7
    Yes, RGOS!! I hate those fuckers! I couldn't think of the acronym.

  8. #8
    Actually it is a modern design of a very OLD type bracing. And it DOES look MUCH lighter. Yet I don't know about the banding across the thigh.

    It is in reality a corset brace and a hip to ankle brace. Nothing to get all negative about. Children WANT to stand and motate. This is providing support to do just that.

    Must say it is alot more easy on the eyes than the old style trunk to shoe type bracing. So you GO little Michael.
    Life isn't about getting thru the storm but learning to dance in the rain.

  9. #9
    Senior Member shak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    british columbia
    I'd like to see this thead take us in the direction of reahab equipment possibilites . all the talk of "robust growth" has got me wondering ,what am i going to have at my disposal to generate robust walkin' ! are we going to have to open a progect walk franchises or put a locomat,in all our home towns? maybey this little guys batman superman suit could be part of an at home apparatus that becomes standard, after receiving the seeds of repair from one of our CC kickass Dr.'s.

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