In the January edition of "People", there's an article called "Helping Paralyzed People Walk Again". It talks about an army vet who recently acquired the device for himself. The Ekso Exoskeleton is described as "a full-body robotic suit". If you haven't seen the picture, here is what it looks like for a better understanding:
Gary is quoted elsewhere in the article as saying "Maybe one day I'll put on a device and people won't even realize I'm a paraplegic". Well, no offense Gary, but you shouldn't have to hide or disguise the fact that you're paralyzed from the waste down. You were a soldier in Iraq that survived an extremely traumatic event. Your paralysis shouldn't be shameful to you. You should embrace the fact that you are a survivor, and disability is NOTHING to hide or be ashamed of. I can just picture Gary twenty years from now, with an Ekso suit that fits under his clothing and isn't visible. He might look "normal" for standing up-right, but he's also masking the underlying issue. Maybe instead of making robotic machines to help people walk, Scientists could find a way to fix the broken nerves or the other underlying causes of paralysis. But in the meantime, nobody should have to hide who they are. Just because you can't walk doesn't make you any less human. It doesn't make you less attractive.
The rest of the article just reminds me of the Disability Studies course that I took my senior year of college. People are always trying to talk about "overcoming disability". That's exactly what this article is like when you read it. It rambles for a couple of paragraphs about how unhappy Gary was, and how his family had to take care of him and help him out. But then it goes on to talk about how Gary was able to stand taller than his wife, and take a stroll. He "overcame" his paralysis using this awesome robotic contraption. There's also a little blurb in the corner of the article that explains how the machine apparently works. I guess there's a remote control to help the suit take steps, but at the moment Gary's family is controlling the remote for him. How is that any different from when they complained about taking care of him before? You just went from helping him reach stuff, to helping him take steps. But I guess that's somehow "better" because he is standing up-right.
Really, the only good thing I found about the article was the part where the Doctor said that standing up-right helps with "bones, digestion, and bowel issues". I can understand that. So for medical reasons I can understand why someone would want a $100,000+ robotic Ekso suit. If Gary had really bad stomach problems than of course it would be medically appropriate for him to have the suit. But it just seems to me that Gary and his family are more concerned with him looking "normal" than actually being healthy. The suit is also a great way to exercise the legs outside of physical therapy, but there's barely any mention of that. Instead, the article focuses more upon Gary's pride and physical appearance.