Department of Veterans Affairs Finances Robotic Legs to Enable Paralyzed Vets to Walk
With a price tag of $77,000, the ReWalk seemed out of reach for many veterans who have been paralyzed due to spinal cord injuries. Now, for eligible veterans, the VA will cover the cost of the exoskeleton, according to a report by the Virginian-Pilot. As a personal injury attorney, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to see those who have been injured in accidents find some degree of normalcy in their lives again. This system will do so for our proud veterans.
Unfortunately, not all paralyzed veterans will be able to be outfitted with the system. There are certain height and weight requirements for the ReWalk and it only works with paraplegic veterans, not quadriplegics. There are approximately 42,000 paralyzed veterans, yet only a fraction of them can satisfy the requirements for the ReWalk.
The machine is quite amazing in the way it works. The veteran wears a supportive belt around his or her waist to keep the suit from moving around. The robotic exoskeleton runs down the length of the veteran’s legs—with powered joints and motion sensors to allow the veteran to maintain balance. The vet also utilizes crutches for added stability.
Apart from the obvious benefit of giving injured veterans the ability to walk again, the system shows other health benefits to those wearing it. The Pilot reported that those who used the ReWalk for at least four hours per week had improved bowel and bladder function, reduced back pain, and improved sleep.
Prior to the VA’s policy to pay for the ReWalk, only 36 individuals had purchased the machine since its FDA approval in 2014. Most of these people paid the $77,000 out of pocket or did private fundraising to pay for the system. The makers of the ReWalk hope that the VA’s new policy will persuade private insurers to begin covering the device for its policyholders.
As amazing as these medical advances are, there is still a significant portion of the population that does not qualify for the new VA policy, but have suffered a catastrophic injury. Therefore, they might be unable to have access to this life-changing device. The cost associated with the device likely puts it out of reach for a majority of the population. In an ideal world, private insurance companies will begin to cover the ReWalk for their policyholders so more people can have access to the technology. If you have been injured due to the fault of another, please call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757-333-3333 for a free, no obligation consultation.