|A World Record Marathon Time 384 Hours!
|Claire Lomas - the first person to complete a marathon in a ReWalk™ exoskeleton, developed by Technion alumni at Argo Medical Technologies - is escorted by the crowd and London’s pearly king and queen as she walks past Big Ben
By Shlomo Maital
I’ve run two marathons, Boston and New York; the Boston marathon took me over five hours. This is very slow; the current world record time for men is 2 hours 3 minutes and 38 seconds, set by Patrick Makau of Kenya, and the world record for women was set by Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain at 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds.
But the greatest marathon record by far is that set recently by Claire Lomas: 384 hours, or 16 full days. She walked across the finish line, accompanied by three riders from the British Household Cavalry. The reason this is amazing? Claire’s legs are paralyzed. She was injured in a horse-riding accident. She was able to complete the full 26-mile 200 yard marathon course ON HER OWN TWO FEET thanks to an Israeli invention called ReWalk™, an ‘exoskeleton’ invented by Dr Amit Goffer, an Israeli entrepreneur and Technion alumnus.
According to The Guardian, the £43,000 (about $70,000) ReWalk™ suit enables people with lower-limb paralysis to stand, walk, and climb stairs through motion sensors and an onboard computer system. A shift in the wearer’s balance, indicating their desire to take, for example, a step forward, triggers the suit to mimic the response that the joints would have if they were not paralyzed. Lomas walked two hours a day, for 16 days. London Marathon officials refused to give her a medal awarded to all finishers, because she failed to finish in a single day. In response, a dozen or more other finishers gave her their medals.
Prof. Emeritus Shlomo Maital (pictured running the Boston Marathon in 2006) is a senior research fellow at Samuel Neaman Institute, Technion. This story appeared on his blog on May 9, 2012.
Goffer’s ReWalk™ exoskeleton is now widely used in the United States, in Veterans Administration hospitals, to help soldiers who were paralyzed by war wounds. Goffer himself is a tetraplegic. He was injured in a freak accident. Ironically, he himself cannot use his exoskeleton to walk. His upper body is too weak to operate it. Goffer says that his invention gives new dignity to those who are paralyzed, transforming them from someone in a wheelchair, always looking up at the people with whom they work and converse, to “just another guy on crutches.”
I visited Goffer’s company, Argo Medical Technologies Ltd., at its headquarters near Haifa, and watched a demonstration of ReWalk™ as a paralyzed man walked up a long set of stairs. It was amazing.