Goodyear resident and Army veteran Richie Nyan will take over the ReWalk Robotics exoskeleton.
Nieder suffered spinal cord injuries during combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and lost the ability to walk.
Now, after a decade in a wheelchair, Neider can walk again, thanks to this machine.
“After 10 years of not walking, it’s one of the most amazing feelings,” Neder said. “Don’t forget how you walk. Your brain is always telling you.”
Its battery-powered exoskeleton gives it the freedom to be self-sufficient once again.
“It is more than freedom. It is complete independence. To be able to stand on my own two feet, be face to face with everyone.”
The ReWalk exoskeleton was approved by the FDA in 2014 as a take-home system. The device starts from the hips with motors at the hip and knee joints. It is clock controlled, so the user can control the ability to go from sitting to standing and vice versa.
“The ReWalk program is for someone with a spinal cord injury or leg paralysis,” said Dan Bonarati, physiotherapist and owner of Touchstone Rehabilitation.
“The robot actually works with the person to help them push each leg as they walk. Every time they move from side to side, the exoskeleton knows how the other end is progressing. So they turn, step, turn, step. It turns into a very natural walk. People can The ones we trained using exoskeletons walked for an hour or more at a time.”
Bonarati, Neider, and a small team of others worked together to get the Neider exoskeleton through the VA program.
“We give them some sessions to train with, make sure they can use it, make sure their bodies tolerate it, make sure it’s as they think it will change their lives,” Bunarati said. “They have to prove that they are going to use it, and then the VA will consider buying it. Ritchie has been a great ambassador for opening that path for other vets.”
Neider is paving the way for more disabled veterans to get the exoskeleton.
“He was the first to do this in Phoenix through Virginia, which is exciting,” Bonaratti said.
“It opens up new possibilities for a program that ReWalk has built across the country. But Phoenix is a pioneer in making ReWalk accessible to veterans by letting them try it out and see if it works for them.”
In the United States, there are another seven veterans who are trained to take these devices home each day. It took Neider about two and a half months to train – 28 sessions – to build up his strength with the machine and learn how to use it.
He is so grateful to VA and his team for giving him the opportunity to take this home. Without insurance or fundraising, the device comes to $75,000.
Since he was seven years old, Neder has been passionate about building and riding motorcycles. Before he got that exoskeleton, he thought he’d never ride again.
“Every year we go to Sturgis,” Neder said of the annual MotoGP rally. “I did about 3,400 miles with our group, and this month we rode with all the veterans we met. I have a pro-charged 2017 Indian Chief, and she has a sidecar. It’s definitely a different kind of bike, but I’m out and about enjoying life. Next year, I’ll take The exoskeleton is with me so I’ll have legs and be able to walk with everyone instead of rolling around with everyone else.”
Without the help of his team at Touchstone Rehab and his wife, Keri, he wouldn’t have gotten where he is today.
“Show others that they can do the same,” Neder said. “It’s just a matter of are you ready for it. This is one of the benefits of getting to this point, is that you can show people who are still struggling there is a way around this.”
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