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  • Bionic leg helps jockey ride again

    Author: AAP

A bionic leg has helped a British teenage jockey who was paralysed in a car crash to walk and ride again.

A teenage jockey paralysed in a car crash has amazed doctors by walking and riding again - thanks to a pioneering bionic leg.

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Katie Watson, 19, from Derbyshire in England, broke her neck when her car aquaplaned on a puddle in February.

She spent five months in hospital and had daily physiotherapy, where she became one of the first people in the UK to use a bionic leg.

The battery-powered leg, made by AlterG, is worn over the patient's limb during physiotherapy sessions and responds to the user's intent to move.

AlterG, who claim it is the world's first bionic leg, developed the device to help patients after stroke, injury, orthopaedic surgery or traumatic brain injury.

Watson is already able to walk unaided and started riding again a month ago. She hopes to return to racing after her recovery.

"I was told by two different doctors and a consultant that I would never walk again, which was devastating to hear but I was determined to do whatever it took to get back on my feet," she said.

"The Bionic Leg is amazing and has helped me so much. I would wear it every day for half an hour and its effects would carry over.

"At first I used a walking frame, two sticks, then one stick and now I can walk unaided. Four weeks ago I got back on a horse and I want to get back to race-riding again."

Watson is currently living at Oaksey House in Lambourn, Berkshire, a rehabilitation centre funded by the Injured Jockeys Fund.

The accident happened when she was driving back from visiting her boyfriend in Cheltenham to work in Lambourn. Her vehicle flipped in the road in Cirencester and she broke her neck.

She had been at the beginning of her career as a professional flat jockey, having competed in two rides.

John Hammond, a clinical specialist for AlterG, said the bionic leg had only recently launched in the UK and described the technology as "ground-breaking".

"The Bionic Leg is a crucial piece of equipment for stroke rehabilitation and therapy for patients with chronic, degenerative neurological gait impairment including Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis (MS)", he said.

"It's excellent that we can now offer the benefits that the Bionic Leg delivers to people in the UK."

The device is claimed to help improve patient stance and strength, stability and gait while sensing their movements and only assisting when necessary.

Copyright AAP 2014.

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