Since exo-skeletons are very expensive, starting at 90.000 euros, it's not some amount (most) people just have. So what would you do? Walk (again) or spend that sum on a more advanced wheelchair and products to improve daily life? Both, right?
If in the future these skeletons will evolve to a more advanced tool, also suitable for daily usage, maybe.. just maybe, then it will be seen as a tool of value. And the question is, if by that time me and other young people who became paralyzed, will still have stable health conditions to actually to walk with the exo-skeleton. The longer you sit, the more you lose.
In the Netherlands these skeletons are not funded by any form of healthcare, but in the meanwhile the government is advertising that 'Sitting is the New Smoking'. It's quiet a contradiction. Sometimes I feel frustrated about these facts. I feel powerless and shortchanged. And I'm sure many people out there feel the same. I still have a whole life ahead of me, and I would like to do that in the best health condition that I can keep my body in. I eat healthy, use no drugs, no medicine, try to work-out, stay active, also stay mentally fit but I know I can do more. And walking is one of these (very important) things.
All those thousands people in wheelchairs can not get access to new technology to improve their health because it's simply too expensive for the individual. We did not choose to have a disability, so why not help us too. For example, people who smoke make a choice. And they can get all the help they need to quit. But why can't a paralyzed person get help to walk? Conclusion, life is unfair.
But we can make a change. I do believe that. If you would have a chance to walk, you would right?! It's in our nature. It's better for your health and it gives you freedom (mobility).
As long as the health benefits are not proven scientific, on a big scale, for people with paralysis, the healthcare insurance companies won't even consider it. In the meanwhile we will have to collect the money on our own somehow. The health benefits are there, believe me, I tried it. I've had the opportunity to walk with the ReWalk skeleton. I've trained for weeks and it's hard work but It was worth it! My energy improved, the blood flow, muscles, bones, mental health etc. And I notice that now that I'm not "walking" I have more problems with my body. Just small ones, but I feel a difference.
Since studies are still in process and not enough evidence is on paper, according to Dutch standards, we need to keep finding ways of our own. And life is already so much more expensive with a disability. The costs of medical equipment and tools are very high. If you don't have a disability it is not something you will every have to worry about but it's a lot. I know that wheelchairs are sold by prices +40% margin. So that means that companies make hudge profits on the products that are necessary for those who can't walk. You feel screwed but you need a wheelchair, you don't have a choice. The Netherlands is an innovative country but not in the medical field. As a Dutch citizen I can say, we have a lot to learn and we have to stop by making things impossible when they are possible.
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