Bridging bionics while creating hope in Aspen
The Aspen Times
Thousands of steps walked, against all odds. Nine hundred and sixty four physical therapy sessions gifted to patients. More than 200,000 charitable dollars matched. Several salty tears.
And one speechless Amanda Boxtel.
It was an inspiring and emotional night for the 100 or so people who attended a private fundraiser Wednesday benefiting Boxtel’s foundation, Bridging Bionics.
“Now this is how a cocktail party’s supposed to be. From this level,” a smiling Boxtel said as she stood vertically with the support of an exoskeleton. “It never gets old.”
Boxtel, a well-known local who was paralyzed in a ski accident at Snowmass Ski Area 25 years ago, established the Basalt-based nonprofit in October 2015.
Bridging Bionics — with a mission to provide funding, education, and advance the research and development for exoskeletons and bionic technology, according to its site — uses an exoskeleton and vibration training to help people who suffer spinal injuries regain mobility.
Since its inception in fall 2015, the foundation has granted nearly 1,000 fully or mostly funded “mobility sessions” to people in the valley.
Boxtel stressed the importance of being able to offer neuro-rehabilitation services, which she said most health insurances fail to cover, at low cost or for free.
“We’re providing a technology that is cost-prohibitive to most, but we’re making it affordable and accessible in our program,” she said, shortly after adding that “the majority of our clients are on Medicare or Medicaid” to receive the therapy needed.
Boxtel mentioned a few recent accomplishments of her patients, or clients, as she refers to them, including Mackenzie Langley, who was left partially paralyzed after a vehicle crash in June 2014.
Through her own determination and grit, Langley has successfully walked more than 60,000 steps — or a total distance of 30.9 miles — using the exoskeleton, Boxtel said.
She noted that the “dedicated, straight-A student” couldn’t make it to the event due to an early class Thursday morning.
Nate White, a 33-year-old Carbondale resident who broke his back in a kayaking accident last summer, shared his testimonial of the exoskeleton and his recovery through Bridging Bionics.
“When I first got (the exoskeleton), I couldn’t move a lot of the muscles that I can right now,” said White, a teacher at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. “It taught me how to walk again, which is pretty amazing.”
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Contact with two presumed positive COVID-19 cases has led to 65 students and staff at Basalt Elementary School transitioning to remote instruction.