A car crash survivor refuses to give up on his dream of walking again, thanks to the help of a futuristic robotic device that is the first of its kind in Ireland outside of a hospital and rehabilitation setting.
Ahmad Shah Kamil currently attends Elite Fitness at Cork’s Marina Commercial park where he makes use of wearable technology known as an exoskeleton.
This extraordinary invention allows wheelchair users to experience the sensation of walking back through simulated steps.
It’s also linked to a long list of health benefits, including increased blood flow, decreased pressure sores, increased sensation and aided stability.
At €150,000, the suit is not cheap and requires maintenance which adds up to the overall cost significantly.
Ahmad, who lives on South Douglas Road, said the device, which he uses once a week, made a significant contribution to his rehabilitation efforts.
Ahmad also worked out in the gym the remaining three days he attended. He is one of a number of people who have joined the facility which has a special focus on helping those struggling to rebuild their lives after a devastating diagnosis or a life-altering accident.
As is his particular interest in this area, owner Colin O’Shaughnessy now operates part of the site as a rehabilitation center.
Ahmad says he owes much of his progress to Colin and his training.
He is open toabout how the gym has helped him since a life-altering accident that happened when his baby boy, Abraham, was three weeks old.
He remembered how the incident was life-changing.
“Our son had just been born a few weeks before and that was the start of our happy life.”
What followed was extensive hospital treatment and rehabilitation.
“I had a t12 injury and was sent to Galway University Hospital. They then transferred me to Cork University Hospital. I then went to the National Rehabilitation Center where I will stay until May 2020.”
Accessing rehabilitation outside of a medical setting proved difficult for Ahmad at first.
“I’m having a hard time finding a place to work out because all the clubs are closed due to covid. A friend of mine recommended that I try this private gym and that’s how I met Colin.”
Luckily, Ahmad has been able to utilize exoskeleton care as an essential service during the pandemic. He described using the device for the first time.
“This is completely different. You can feel like you’re walking. Even the sensations around the hips, knees and ankles are a completely different experience.”
The former retail worker said he would never give up walking again one day. Mr Kamil added that he had already seen small improvements from working with Colin in the gym.
“At first it was different because the doctor said it was a total injury which meant I would never be able to walk again.
“However, I have seen people with the same injuries as me getting back to walking again. I saw their videos and they inspired me. I have been told that while it is difficult, it is not impossible.”
The inspiring father of one owes much of his motivation to his son Abraham, who turns four in October.
“When he saw other parents playing with their children, he could feel it. He was at an age where he was curious and asked lots of questions.
“I am lucky to have a wife like Meena who does a lot for us both inside and outside the house.”
He also credited Colin for his tireless work at the facility.
The gym has been campaigning for the last few years to raise funds for a new exoskeleton to help more people like Ahmad.
Anyone wishing to donate funds to purchase a new exoskeleton or maintain an existing device can call 087 132 6600 or email email@example.com.
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