Ekso Indego Personal Helps Veteran Walk Across Stage to Fulfill Granddaughter’s Wish

The National Veterans Wheelchair Games held in Louisville, KY, in July 2019 were the 39th annual games and pulled in over 800 athletes. Starting in 1981, the wheelchair games have drawn individuals from all 50 states, including the Dominican Republic and Great Britain. Over the past years, the wheelchair games have expanded from the original 7 events to over 20 events bringing veterans together to compete on one stage.

In 2019, veteran Jim Kempner joined as an athlete in his 4th wheelchair games and participated in 9 different events, including slalom, trap shooting, bowling, and archery. His outstanding dedication and ability to battle to the top led him to receive three gold medals and four silver medals. When receiving his medals, Jim used his Ekso Indego Personal to walk across the stage. When explaining his feelings, Jim expressed, “to show veterans that now we have the opportunity to not only stand but walk again is a feeling that is hard to explain.”

Injured in March of 2014 when he fell off the second story of a building, Jim was determined to continue pursuing his passions and hobbies. By participating in the veteran wheelchair games, he was able to compete on a high level and dedicate himself to the challenge each sport provided. His interest in participating in sports at a high level and continuing to be active led him to seek out other interests, including exploring technology available for veterans— exoskeletons. Jim started his training with the Ekso Indego Personal exoskeleton in April of 2018 through VA Palo Alto. Walking across the stage to accept his medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games was only the beginning for Jim.

When he is not competing in his sports, Jim uses Ekso Indego Personal on a daily basis to walk with his family and friends. He truly takes it to the limits, demonstrating how Ekso Indego Personal is not only helping veterans walk at home but around the community. Jim enjoys walking around Walmart and Home Depot, something that was not an option for him following his injury in 2014. Not only has he been able to see personal changes when using Ekso Indego Personal, but his family has also been a big part of his journey as well. So much so that a letter written by his granddaughter outlining three wishes included a wish for her grandpa Jim, “My last wish would be for my grandpa to walk again.”

“To be able to stand and walk again really can’t be put into words. To be able to show others that there are options other than to just be in a chair the rest of their life is great.”

 Jim Kempner, United States Veteran, Wheelchair Olympics Athlete, and Indego user

Ekso Indego Personal has helped Jim to continue reaching for his goals and passions. Not only in his love for sports but also in making his granddaughter’s wish come true.

Now offered under Ekso Bionics, Ekso Indego Personal is a flagship at-home exoskeleton that is designed to help patients with spinal cord injuries walk again in their homes and community. Equipped with a modular, quick-connect design, you can put it on and take it off anytime without assistance. It’s also extra light, weighing only 29 lb (13kg), and is designed to help you take it with you anywhere you want to go. Try Ekso Indego Personal today and regain your independence. For any inquiries, reach out to us today.

Army Veteran Jim Dahlin Purchases Ekso Indego Personal Exoskeleton Through VA

My name is Jim Dahlin. I’m an army veteran who served as a combat medic with the 4th infantry division in Vietnam from 1969-70. I was discharged in June of 1971 and used the GI bill to become a nurse anesthetist. When I was 48, I could ride a bicycle across the US from Seattle to Williamsburg, Virginia, in 24 days averaging 140 miles a day. Two short years later, at the age of 50, I was unable to even get on a bicycle. I had been diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, which eventually put me in a wheelchair.

The Minneapolis VA and My Introduction to Exoskeletons

I didn’t get involved with the VA until 2014 when I had an MRI done at the Minneapolis VA. I needed to have my baclofen pump checked before I could be discharged and had to go to the SCID (spinal cord injury or disease) center. When I met with the physician there, she told me that my disease qualified me to be seen and treated at the SCID center. As part of my two-day physical, I was seen by a physical therapist who asked me if I would be willing to try a new therapy device. This new therapy device was an exoskeleton called the Ekso NR. I attended physical therapy three days a week for five weeks. It was so nice to stand and move. Unfortunately, the Ekso was only for therapy and not for home use.

After a few weeks, I got a call from another therapist in the SCID who was looking for people to try the ReWalk exoskeleton, which was approved for home use. I went through training for three weeks to learn how to use the device. Since you need to have someone with you using the exoskeleton, my wife went through some of the training with me. After completing my training, I was approved to take it home for a three-month trial. After my trial period ended, I returned the device and was asked if I wanted to have it purchased on my behalf by the VA. Later, I found out that another device was launching for trial in the next few months, so I decided to try the new exoskeleton as well before I made a decision.

Why I Chose Ekso Indego Personal

When the Ekso Indego Personal exoskeleton launched, my wife and I attended and completed the training for it at the Minneapolis VA. I was then given the opportunity to take the Ekso Indego Personal home for a three-month trial. During my trial period, Indego made some changes to the exoskeleton. They sent me the new components with each change, so my trial period was extended to give me the opportunity to test all the new components. 

I made the decision to go with Ekso Indego Personal for a few reasons. I can make adjustments to such things as step height and step length while walking in the device. Its five-piece design makes it easy to assemble and put on, and if I spend some time away from my home, it has a travel case to store it in.

The thing I love most about exoskeletons is the ability to stand, walk, and look someone straight in the face while talking. Those of us in chairs know how tiring it can be on our necks to look up at someone who is standing and carry on a long conversation. It’s also good for the overall body to stand and move. I generally walk in the device for 30-45 minutes, 2-3 times a week. Living in Minnesota, the winter poses some problems when it gets too cold, or the sidewalks become slippery from ice and snow. Because the Ekso Indego Personal is slim and lightweight, I can get in my car while wearing the device, giving me the option to go to a mall or large store and walk with it during the winter months. 

If you are currently in a wheelchair, I recommend speaking with the physical therapist in your SCID to see if you physically qualify for the use of an exoskeleton. If you do qualify, I highly encourage you to do a trial with your therapist. I know that not every SCID has an exoskeleton in-house. If yours does not, contact Ekso today to make an inquiry.