Israeli invention will help woman in the marathon

By Jennifer Lipman, March 15, 2012
The ReWalker in action

The ReWalker in action

A semi-professional British horse-rider who was told she would never walk again following an accident nearly five years ago is to compete in the London marathon with the help of an Israeli inventor.

Claire Lomas, who punctured her lung and suffered severe spinal injuries that left her paralysed from the chest down when her horse collided with a tree in May 2007, saw the ReWalk on display at the NEC Birmingham last year.

The £43,000 device, the brainchild of Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer, is essentially a pair of motorised trousers, which, Ms Lomas said, reminded her of Wallace and Gromit's "wrong trousers".

Mr Goffer, who was himself paralysed in a car accident in 1997, developed the device to enable paraplegics to walk and climb stairs with the aid of crutches.

The crutches, when triggered by sensors, tilt the user's body so they can move forward.

Ms Lomas, 31, from Leicestershire, said she had never tried anything like it when she first tested the ReWalk.

She admitted that when she first used the device it was "very challenging" because it required balance, "which is very difficult with the loss of sensation and movement.

"It senses the pelvis tilt, and weight shift is essential, which is again hard when you have no feeling in your legs."

But although Ms Lomas said it had been a frustrating learning curve, she was delighted that it would allow her to embark on the marathon next month in aid of Spinal Research.

"I love a challenge," she said. "There are so many people worse off than me, with less support and higher injuries. A cure is getting closer and they need the funding."

Ms Lomas said that, without the Israeli device, attempting the marathon wouldn't even be a possibility. "At the moment, the ReWalk is the only one that can help you walk independently and do steps," said Ms Lomas.

Last updated: 3:31pm, March 15 2012