Former NFL Player Matt Stevens, Who Became Paraplegic, Walks Again in Groundbreaking ReWalk Device

Published: June 3, 2010  |  Source: finance.yahoo.com
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PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Matt Stevens, a 36-year-old former professional football player paralyzed from a spinal cord injury, is one of only 12 patients selected to participate in the clinical trials of ReWalk™, a wearable device that enables wheelchair users to stand, walk, and climb stairs.

A resident of Philadelphia, Stevens attends ReWalk therapy three times a week at MossRehab, which is located in Elkins Park, Penna., and is part of Albert Einstein Healthcare Network. MossRehab is the exclusive site in the United States for the clinical trials of ReWalk.

The ReWalk is a motorized, quasi-robotic, lightweight, wearable brace support suit with powered joints, rechargeable batteries, an array of sensors and a computer-based patient control system. The device is worn around the legs and back and fits closely to the body on top of everyday clothing. The concurrent use of crutches stabilizes the upright patient, who is able to initiate and control movements through simple body language to control the legs.

Declared a “classic, hard-hitting safety” in a National Football League (NFL) tribute video, Matt Stevens was a standout player for eight seasons, playing in 108 games and achieving 310 total tackles and 18 passes defense. During his career, he played for the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots and Houston Texans. Stevens earned a Super Bowl ring as a team member of the world-champion New England Patriots in 2001.

After an impressive eight-year career in the NFL, Matt Stevens retired from football in 2003, primarily to spend more time with his kids. But a motorcycle accident in 2007 left Stevens paralyzed from the chest down – caused by a severe spinal cord injury. He also suffered two broken shoulders, two punctured lungs, a bruised heart and multiple internal injuries.

For three years, Stevens’ mobility has been limited by the constraints of a wheelchair. Now the ReWalk trial gives him his legs back, albeit temporarily, and gives Stevens hope for life beyond his wheelchair.

“It’s exhilarating and motivating just to be able to stand up from my wheelchair and walk upright with ReWalk – it really improves my mental attitude and enables me to focus on what I can do, instead of what I can’t do,” said Stevens. “I have my fiancée and my family to thank for their encouragement to try ReWalk and to reinforce my strength and determination. I’m thrilled to be able to participate in this trial at MossRehab, and I hope that in some way, I can help to advance the development of ReWalk, so other paraplegics can have the chance to walk again.”

Until the creation of ReWalk, there was no significant development for mobility-impaired people since the invention of the first molded plastic leg braces in the 1970s (incidentally, also at MossRehab). Lightweight and ergonomic, ReWalk can be used by people with spinal cord injury-related disabilities and eventually by others with brain injury, stroke and other conditions that produce severe walking impairments. The ReWalk was designed by Argo Medical Technologies, Ltd., located in Haifa, Israel.

MossRehab was selected as the site for the U.S. clinical trials of ReWalk because of its international reputation for comprehensive clinical rehabilitation and research programs, with a special focus on medical and cognitive rehabilitation and problems with movement. The MossRehab clinical and research staff consist of some of the world’s foremost experts in rehabilitation medicine, including Alberto Esquenazi, MD, who is chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at MossRehab and is leading the ReWalk clinical trials; Dr. Esquenazi has also been instrumental in the development of ReWalk.

About MossRehab

A division of Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, MossRehab has a worldwide reputation for excellence in physical rehabilitation and has repeatedly been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best” rehabilitation hospitals. MossRehab treats patients with complex physical needs for brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke and musculoskeletal disorders and also provides comprehensive treatment for orthopaedic and sports-related injuries or conditions; hand trauma, amputation and neurological diseases. MossRehab offers unparalleled experience, caring and compassionate staff, and a clinical and research staff that includes some of the world’s foremost experts in rehabilitation medicine. Visit www.mossrehab.com for more information.

About Albert Einstein Healthcare Network

Albert Einstein Healthcare Network is a 1,200 bed integrated delivery network with nearly 7,400 employees serving the communities of North Philadelphia and Montgomery County, PA. The network’s primary location, Albert Einstein Medical Center, is the largest independent academic medical center in the Delaware Valley. The Einstein network also provides a comprehensive range of healthcare services through the Einstein at Elkins Park hospital campus, MossRehab, Belmont Behavioral Health, Einstein at Germantown, Willow Terrace (a nursing home), Willowcrest (a center for subacute care), outpatient facilities such as Center One and Einstein Neighborhood Healthcare, and a network of primary care and specialist practices throughout the community. For more information, visit www.einstein.edu or call 1-800-EINSTEIN.