Stephen's Story

Jan 1, 2020

In July, 2014, Stephen was walking to the store like he’d done a million times before, but this time he didn’t make it home.  He was hit by a car, leaving him with a brain injury and paralyzed from the waist down.

“Right away, I knew it wasn’t good. I spent three months in the hospital and was told I would never walk again.  I then transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM). I was extremely depressed. I didn’t want to be around anyone or talk to anyone. My life was over.”

RIM helped Stephen recover from his brain injury. Therapists taught him how to use a wheelchair.  And, because he had an incomplete spinal cord injury, they told him they would work hard and see how far he could go.

“RIM gave me hope, through therapy and wheelchair basketball, and that’s what I really needed.  I worked so hard and one day I started to feel sensation in my legs.  It was incredible.  They immediately got me using an exoskeleton by Ekso Bionics to strengthen my legs and get my gait down. Today, I’m off and running, literally.”

Stephen believes in the benefits of rehab and has religiously attended outpatient therapy in RIM’s Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery for the past five years.  He walks with braces that only support his foot and ankle. He recently ran a mile, is back to playing basketball and driving.

“I worked so hard and continue to work hard because I knew with RIM, good things would happen. RIM got me on my feet and has opened new doors.  I now work as a patient ambassador for Ekso Bionics. They saw how great my recovery was and hired me to talk with others about the benefits I have experienced.”

Stephen says he tells each and every patient to never give up.  He’s living proof of hope.

Exoskeletons can help maximize the recovery of persons with spinal cord injuries and other neurologic conditions that limit mobility. The battery-powered, robotic suits that are strapped over the user’s clothing, enabling individuals to stand and walk. Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan is an industry leader in testing and evaluating exoskeleton technology.