Modern technology helps local man walk again

SCHENECTADY, NY (NEWS10) – A year after he was paralyzed in a construction accident, technology got a local back on his feet.

“Today is a great day!”

Douglas Avreu came to the capital region from Brazil in 2016. A year ago he was working on a construction site. While building a wall, he fell from the third floor and sustained a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the waist down. It was his belief that got him through those early weeks.

“Yes, if you believe in God you must keep fighting for everything,” he said.

In October, Doug got into the ReWalk Personal Robotic Exoskeleton. He uses a watch-like device that sends signals to motors on his hips and knees to control his movements.

And now he’s back on his feet.

“In about 20 to 30 sessions of using the machine, he was fully trained and independently in walking with it, standing with it, using it to run outside, inside and on the grass,” said Physiotherapist Sunnyview said Cono Cirone. “We ran up and down the hill.”

Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital has a partnership with ReWalk and has used their exoskeletons in the physiotherapy department.

“The device obviously gives new life to people with spinal cord injuries, I like to say,” said Lauren Pelttier, business development manager at ReWalk Robotics. “It enables them to be upright and able to walk both at home and in the community. It’s not just because of the health benefits, but also to be back on par with the confidence and quality of life that healthy people sometimes take for granted. “

Doug was identified as the perfect home use candidate and he took one home with him on Tuesday.

“It’s very exciting because when I was in the hospital they said that maybe you won’t walk and now I can see my legs move and it’s amazing,” he said.