Paralyzed man’s success with robotic exoskeleton contributes to rehab research
Corey Borner, who was injured in 2009, is inspiring Texas doctors — and hope — as he uses an exoskeleton suit to walk.
Corey Borner, who was paralyzed in 2009 after sustaining a spinal cord injury during a high school football game, became a household name in North Texas for his hard-fought recovery. Twelve years after his accident, Borner wore an exoskeleton that allowed him to walk across the stage at his 2021 college graduation.
Now, in the exoskeleton suit, Borner is inspiring doctors as he uses the device to give him a mechanical boost to exercise his muscles at Baylor Scott and White Sports Therapy and Research in Frisco, Texas, according to NBC 5.
“I give myself a pat on the back and the therapist will motivate me to keep going on turf because this is where I got hurt playing football, on turf. So it makes me go even harder,” said Borner.
A team of doctors, including Dr. Chad Swank, is studying how the technology that inspired the suit can be used or improved based on how Borner uses it.
“The robotic exoskeleton has changed the field of neuro-rehab in that way. So it … allows us to work with people who have struggled with standing and walking in an entirely new way. That obviously has opened up a wide range of options for those folks,” Swank told the network. “That’s exciting. It’s very exciting.”
Lately, Borner is using the suit on familiar ground: Astroturf. The uneven surface will inspire new advances in using an exoskeleton on more challenging terrain.
“We’re sharing that information with the industry and the creators of these exoskeletons,” said Swank. “Hopefully, we can help them see the kind of the needs that are there and where they can progress and get us to the next level.”
In addition to walking exercises, Borner also undergoes mental assessments to contribute to further research into how building brainpower can impact physical success.
“From Corey, it’s really, ‘How do we help make this technology more efficient for clinicians? How do we help patients better?’ Broadly, I think, Corey has such a fervor for what he’s doing too, so some of this is really centered around the mindset side as well,” said J.J. Mosolf, the president of Academy Medtech Ventures.
As for the man now in motion, he continues to defy the odds — and even recently caught a football with both hands for the first time since he was injured.
Said Borner: “I tell myself, ‘Find a way.'”
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