New technology helps paraplegics walk

(NECN: Greg Wayland) – A medical breakthrough was unveiled in Boston Tuesday.

A technology that lets paraplegics walk again went on display at the Convention and Exhibition Center.

It was combined with a major business announcement.

First came the big announcement from Argo Technologies:

“We are very excited to announce that we have chosen Massachusetts as our U.S. headquarters and the headquarters of many of our global activities,” says Larry Jasinski, CEO of Argo Medical Technologies.

Then came the big moment: Army Sergeant Theresa Hannigan, a paraplegic, sitting next to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick stood up, put her high-tech wristband in the walk mode and in her special head-to-shoulder Argo Technologies Re-Walk exo-skeleton, commenced to amble around the Adva-Med 2012 Medical Technology Conference.

She was stricken by an auto-immune disease that attacked her neuromuscular system.

She’s among 60 people worldwide using the exo-skeleton according to Argo executives.

It was launched last month in Europe and will be available soon in the US.

Eleven-year-old Argo Technologies was founded in Israel and is a prize catch for the Bay State’s 5-year-old one-billion dollar life science initiative.

“There are a whole host of different technologies that I have come in contact with over the last few years as we’ve been building the medical device and life science industry here that are transformative,” says Gov. Patrick.

Hannigan can even climb stairs and was introduced to the exo-skeleton at the Bronx, N.Y. Veterans Hospital, taking her first steps within three sessions.

She finally sat down with others hoping to use the system, which ultimately may include war-injured veterans.

“I mean, when somebody tells you you’re not going to be able to walk again, all you can think about are all the doors that are going to be closing behind you. This is now opening all these doors for me.”

On October 20th, Hannigan will be participating in a fundraiser for veterans in her native Long Island. It’s a walk, and she’ll be walking.

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