New technology helps paralyzed Houston woman walk again

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There is a new device that is helping people with paralysis stand up and walk again, and it is helping a very determined Houston woman break free from her wheelchair.

In January 2014, marathoner Sara Domson was working out at home hanging upside down.

"I was actually using inversion boots that go with the chin-up bars that go in the doorway, and the bar came out of the doorway and I just landed on my back. I couldn't get up and I couldn't feel my legs right away," she said.

The fall dislocated two vertebrae in her spine and left her legs paralyzed.

"It was basically immediately devastating," Domson said.

She has been in a wheelchair ever since and has been doing rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann for more than a year.

"Sara is the best patient you could possibly imagine," said TIRR Memorial Hermann physical therapist Samantha Dewey. "If you tell her to do 10 reps of an exercise, I'm pretty sure she goes home and does 100."

Now, her hard work, positive attitude, and a device called the ReWalk are giving Domson a chance to be on her own two feet again. There are fewer than 30 of the robotic machines in the country.

"Psychologically it just means so much to be eye to eye with your family and friends," Dewey said.

The creators of ReWalk say being able to stand has other health benefits as well.

"So when we talk about bone density, cardiovascular issues, bowel and bladder, GI issues, there's a laundry list that people with spinal cord injuries have to deal with, and it's being able to address those now," said ReWalk's Andy McCord.

Domson is one of the first in Houston to use the ReWalk, which is the only home device for spinal cord injuries approved by the FDA. If her insurance approves it and she passes the checklist of skills required, she could take it home early next year.

"You have to be able to go around curves, you have to be able to turn in the equipment, you have to learn how to stop it on a dime," Dewey said.

But the former marathoner has found hope in ReWalk and it has given her a new goal.

"It was completely devastating going from running 26 miles to not being able to take a step. And with this, it gives me hope. I can walk everywhere again. I won't have to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life," said Domson.

The makers of ReWalk add that there is a specific candidate for the device and that not all insurance covers it. For more information, visit
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