One Mensch, One Heart, Two Rediscovered Legs

When my husband told me about the ReWalk demonstration in Ventnor, New Jersey, I immediately booked a hotel to spend Shabbat there, and be part of the event. The American Technion Society Philadelphia Chapter was hosting its annual “Down the Shore” program at Steve and Ilene Berger’s home. As the many guests enjoyed a copious summer buffet, anticipation grew about the event that was going to take place.

After a few words about various innovation projects at the Technion, Linda Richman, ATS Eastern Seabord Associate Regional Director, introduced Dan Webb, from Warminster, Pennsylvania, and his physical therapist John from MossRehab. Together, Dan and John are on a very unique path — the path to “ReWalk.”

Dan Webb retraced his story for us. He recalled his deer hunting accident, when he fell from a tree, and immediately knew that he was paralyzed. He told us how after that dramatic fall, he managed to push his legs around to reach to his phone and call his wife. When he told her about the accident, he thought he was bleeding to death, and went on to say goodbye.

Fast forward a couple of years. Dan was bound to a wheelchair, and his wife and young children had learned how to live with this new situation. Yet, Dan was a fighter. He knows that sometimes good can come out of bad. Surfing the internet, he reads the story of Amit Goffer, Technion alum and founder of Argo Medical Technology.

Amit’s story is chilling. Amit was paralyzed in a 1997 car accident. As an engineer and entrepreneur, he set the goal for himself to help paralyzed patients stand, walk and even climb stairs through the use of an exoskeleton suit. Thus ReWalk was born, and now it gives new hope to paralyzed patients. Upon learning about this new device, Dan set to get enrolled in clinical trials. With hope and perseverance, he knew he could “ReWalk” one day.

Dan has been working tirelessly with MossRehab and is able to operate the exoskeleton suit. With a specialized control watch, he is able to generate commands for the robotic frame, to raise him from his wheelchair, make him walk along the hospital hallways, and get him to sit again after training sessions.

Last March, Dan and his therapist John set out for the AIPAC conference, where they demonstrated ReWalk. Thousands of people in the audience were in tears as Dan finally met Amit Goffer, the brilliant Israeli inventor who has changed his life. As Dan explains, it is not just the idea of walking, and the physical benefits that come with it, but also the satisfaction of being able to be up and talk to people face to face.

This story repeated itself this past Saturday, as the ATS brought in many Technion “friends” and supporters, who came to encourage Dan and listen to his story. Dan showed the speechless audience how he could raise himself from his wheelchair, walk around the living room, and chat with people. He said that gets a lot of energy from using the device and looks for every opportunity to do so.

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