Jane taking huge strides in bid to ReWalk again
A PARALYMPIC ski racer who was left paralysed from the waist down after a fall has walked for the first time in nine years thanks to a company in East Yorkshire.
Jane Sowerby, 37, from Bedfordshire, was left unable to walk following a devastating accident in 2003.
However, keen to rebuild her life and regain her independence, Jane began skiing in 2005.
Her determination to succeed helped forge a Paralympic ski racing career, scooping several medals and joining Team GB for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
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Last year, she approached wheelchair manufacturer and rehabilitation experts Cyclone Technologies in Ottringham in a bid to improve her general health, circulation and range of motion, by using the company's specialist Functional Electrical Stimulation cycling therapy.
After working with Cyclone for around a year, Jane was contacted by the company's founder, Stuart Dunne, who told her about ReWalk – a new alternative mobility solution to the wheelchair.
After only four days of training, Jane is now able to stand, ascend and descend stairs and walk indoors and outdoors on mown grass, ramps and up curbs, providing Jane with a level of independence she said she never thought possible.
She said: "It's such an amazing feeling to be standing for the first time in five years, and walking for the first time in nine years.
"Recently, I've had a number of hip problems, meaning I stayed away from using support bars to help me stand, but the ReWalk provides me with all the support and balance I need to get around comfortably.
"ReWalk has already given me more independence than I could have imagined, and it feels incredible to be so tall!"
Dave Hawkins, managing director at Cyclone Technologies, said ReWalk had already made a massive difference in people's lives.
He said: "We're so pleased to be providing and training people to use a product that can help individuals with lower-limb disabilities to improve their health and fitness levels, and regain their independence.
"With her incredible drive, courage and determination to succeed, Jane has made some fantastic progress already and we're thrilled to see how much she's enjoying her training."
ReWalk was invented by the Israeli entrepreneur, Dr Amit Goffer, who became a quadriplegic in 1998.
The exoskeleton mobility system provides individuals with user-initiated mobility thanks to a light wearable brace support, a computer-based control system and motion sensors.
By a shift in the wearer's balance, the sensors recognise a change in position and trigger the desired knee or hip movement to take a step forward, making walking relatively easy for the user.
Cyclone, which is based in Sunk Island Road, is one of the UK's leading rehabilitation and training specialists for people with severe walking impairments.
Its purpose-built rehabilitation and training facility in Sunk Island Road, Ottringham, has helped Jane and others regain the independence many thought was a distant memory.
As the UK's exclusive supplier of ReWalk, the company ensures customers can quite literally get back on their feet again.
After experiencing a number of injuries in recent years, Jane said she is now moving away from ski racing and focusing instead on instructing new racers.
Dave said: "It's really inspiring to work with people like Jane, who are living proof that enjoying an active life isn't constrained by spinal cord injury.
"We come across a lot of remarkable people and, in Jane, I genuinely believe she can achieve anything she wants to."