A paralyzed woman has accomplished an amazing feat: finishing a half marathon.
With the help of a bionic suit, 36-year-old Claire Lomas was able to finish Sunday the Great North Run in England after just five days. Lomas has been paralyzed from her chest down since 2007 when she was in a horseback riding accident.
Lomas was able to manage the feat by using a ReWalk robotic exoskeleton, which uses motion sensors to help her lift and move her legs along the route. The suit has lightweight braces that support the legs and motors that rotate the joints along the way. Users are able to control the movement with upper body sensors.
But, Lomas — who has completed the London Marathon before — said that the suit isn’t an easy thing to use.
“It's taken some learning. It's not just physical work, it's the concentration with every step,” she told BBC Women’s Hour before the run. “It doesn’t just walk for me. I have to use the parts that aren’t paralyzed to make it walk.”
To add to the impressive feat, Lomas is also 13 weeks pregnant and had to endure morning sickness while she was training and was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to make it to the half marathon.
"I had quite a lot of morning sickness. I didn't have the lead up I wanted, but I really did not want to lose this opportunity, ” she said.
Her story has inspired many others who see her determination and courage when she takes on these challenges. She has a husband who joins her on the walks to help her out if needed and her five-year-old daughter was present at the finish line to see her finish.
Bionic exoskeletons have been around for a few years now from various manufacturers. Often, the suits are used to help people with poor lower body strength to relearn how to walk.