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New Bionic Suit Helps Stroke Survivors To Walk Again

WEST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- It could be the key to recovery for many stroke survivors.

As CBS 2's Alexis Christoforous reported, a new bionic suit is helping stroke victims learn to walk again.

Dez Duru is up and walking a month after having a stroke thanks to the wearable robot suit called the Ekso GT.

"I feel a little relieved. I'm free -- that my independence is coming back," Duru said.

The 30-year-old said she is still trying to accept was has happened to her.

"(What went through your head when they told you this?) I need to get married (laughs) and have my kids," she said tearfully.

The stroke left one side of Duru's body extremely weak.

And she is among a dozen stroke patients at the Kessler Foundation testing the battery-powered exoskeleton suit, Christoforous reported.

The robot is not actually walking for her, but rather when Duru shifts her weight, sensors in the suit are activated which initiates steps.

The EXSO GT suit helps patients take more than 300 steps in a single session. Without the suit, some patients are only able to take about two dozen steps.

Dr. Karen Nolan said getting the patient up and walking right after a stroke is key.

"It gives them the feeling of that left, right, left, right, walking pattern to help their brain connect to the motion and hopefully we can get that change to stick," Nolan said.

Duru is expected to be released from Kessler this week. She is getting married in December.

"I'm excited for that," she said.

Duru will continue outpatient therapy and said she's looking forward to walking down the aisle without any help.

The technology has also been tested on patients with spinal cord injuries. Researchers hope to test people with traumatic brain injuries next.

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