Canadian-made device gives Invictus participant new sense of freedom
Today, Liz Steeves is able to stride confidently to the Invictus Games. But just six months ago, the former Canadian soldier was left despondent from a bone-crushing neck injury and chronic damage to her knees.
“The pain was too much, so mentally I became quite distraught,” Steeves told CTV Toronto. “It was very difficult to sit, move around in the vehicles.”
Then Steeves met Nic Meunier, another former soldier who is now a participant, mentor and coach at the Invictus Games. Meunier promised to get Steeves the same device that had restored his mobility: a power-assisted walking system called Keeogo.
Just two weeks later, Steeves was already seeing results.
“I cried with the fact that, oh my goodness, this might actually recover my knees more than anything that anybody else has tried,” she said.
Keeogo, which is short for “keep on going,” was developed by B-TEMIA Inc., a Quebec-based medical device manufacturer, in conjunction with the military. The device is essentially a powered exoskeleton.
“This is a device that will actually support your movements -- your intended movements -- while you're going up stairs, down stairs,” Keeogo spokesperson Pamela Borges told CTV Toronto. “It’s hands-free.”
Right now, only 125 people in Canada are using Keeogos to get around. And while the device cannot be used by people who are paralyzed, the company believes that it can help those with Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis, partial spinal injuries and multiple sclerosis.
At the Invictus Games, Steeves will be participating in wheelchair tennis since the games’ rules don’t allow her to use her Keeogo as an assistive device, as it would give her an unfair advantage. Still, Steeves is happy to save her Keeogo for other daily activities -- and she also has a message for others with mobility issues.
“Don't quit,” she said. “We're all here for each other.”
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Pauline Chan