Paralyzed Veterans of America Praises the New VA Policy to Provide Exoskeletons to Qualified Veterans

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) is pleased with the
news that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued a national
policy for the evaluation, training and procurement of personal
exoskeleton systems for qualifying veterans with spinal cord injury.
According to a press release issued today by ReWalk, the VA policy
allows veterans with spinal cord injury to receive referral and
evaluation at all designated ReWalk Training Centers across the United
States or at one of the 25 VA Spinal Cord Injury Centers nationwide.

Veterans who meet the physical criteria for an exoskeleton system will
be referred for training on the use of the device, and those who
successfully complete training will be eligible to obtain an exoskeleton
system. Currently, ReWalk is the only FDA approved exoskeleton device on
the market. Parker Hannifin’s Indego exoskeleton is pending FDA approval
and may also soon be available to veterans this year.

“Exoskeletons are the next frontier of independence for paralyzed
veterans, and we are very pleased to see this policy being implemented,”
Paralyzed Veterans said Sherman Gillums Jr., deputy executive director
of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “While exoskeletons are by no means a
replacement for the wheelchair in every case, it is another ‘choice’ we
believe should be offered to veterans who qualify.”

Paralyzed Veterans of America met with VA Secretary Robert McDonald
earlier this year to discuss a timeline for the release of the new
directive that was issued this week. At the meeting, Secretary McDonald
voiced his commitment to getting exoskeletons to those eligible veterans
whose lives could be changed by the device. Since releasing the
directive, VA staff at Spinal Cord Injury Centers anticipate a wave of
calls from veterans who want to explore whether the exoskeleton is right
for them.

“Not every paralyzed veteran will meet the clinical eligibility
criteria, so the first step for understandably eager veterans is to
determine, with a therapist and physician, whether an exoskeleton is
ideal for them in each individual case,” Gillums advised. “Once cleared,
each VA facility will need to undertake the assessment and procurement
process pursuant to the new directive, which could take some time as
more therapists need to become credentialed to work with veterans who
will be issued exoskeletons.”

Paralyzed Veterans of America participates as a member of the Federal
Advisory Committee on Prosthetics and Special Disabilities, which
evaluates prosthetics policy and other VA programs for veterans with
severely disabling conditions. The organization also conducts daily
medical monitoring and annual site visits, to include assessments of how
VA medical centers issue life changing devices, such as customized power
chairs, to catastrophically disabled veterans.

“For those veterans who will walk again, thanks to an exoskeleton, it
will validate the hope that remains when all else feels lost, day one
post-injury,” Gillums concluded. “Now, these men and women will take the
meaning of ‘unstoppable’ to new heights.”

About Paralyzed Veterans of America:

Paralyzed
Veterans of America
 is the only congressionally chartered veterans
service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation
of veterans with spinal
cord injury
 or disease.
For nearly 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned
through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal
cord injury units; and funded research
and education
 in the search for a cure and improved care for
individuals with paralysis.

As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and
career services, works to ensure accessibility in
public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation
opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans
and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters,
Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in
all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (www.pva.org)

Contacts

Paralyzed Veterans of America
Lani Poblete, 202-416-7667