A jockey who was paralysed in a car accident has defied the odds to horse ride again due to a revolutionary bionic exoskeleton.
Jemima Green, 27, from Beaminster, Dorset, was sat in the back seat of a car when the vehicle was hit head on three years ago, instantly killing her friend and fellow passenger.
After suffering a spinal cord injury that left her paralysed from the waist down, doctors told Ms Green she would never ride again.
Refusing to give up on the sport she loves, Ms Green started building up her strength by walking with an exoskeleton, called EksoGT, which left her strong enough to ride horses despite her disability.
Now riding twice a week, she won a race against other disabled jockeys in May last year and came third in a competition against six able-bodied riders a month later.
Former jockey Jemima Green, who was paralysed in a car accident, has defied the odds to horse ride again due to a revolutionary bionic exoskeleton. Ms Green is pictured using the exoskeleton to help rebuild her muscle and core strength, and relearn to stand and walk
After being told she would never ride again, Ms Green has built up her core strength enough to be able to ride a horse. Ms Green is pictured competing after the car accident
Ms Green suffered a spinal cord injury after a van hit a car she was a passenger in head on three years ago. She claims she watched her friend and fellow passenger ‘die instantly’
WHAT IS THE EKSOGT EXOSKELETON?
EksoGT is the first wearable exoskeleton that is approved for stroke and spinal cord injury rehabilitation in the US. It is also available in the UK.
It is designed to help patients re-learn step patterns and weight shifting when trying to get back on their feet.
EksoGT stimulates nerves via an electrical current to cause muscular contractions.
This can allow muscles to be trained even if some or all of the voluntary control is list.
Nerve stimulation can be controlled by a medic to ensure the patient is in the correct posture and walking at the right speed.
According to its manufacturer, EksoGT ‘offers the hope of greater mobility and independence’ in patients who thought they would never stand or walk again.
Source: Ekso Bionics
Speaking of the accident, Ms Green said: ‘I was in the back seat of a car with my friends one night, when a van instantly hit us head on.
‘I watched my friend sitting next to me die instantly and I suffered a spinal cord injury.
‘I remember sitting in the hospital saying that I wanted to ride again and the doctors told me I never could. I said, “that’s not an option”.’
Medics offered Ms Green the exoskeleton, made by Ekso Bionics, to help her relearn to stand and walk.
Ms Green said: ‘I felt like I was exercising, which was very exciting, and it made it possible for me to strengthen my core so that I could control the horse again. It’s been a massive part of my rehabilitation.
‘My fitness and stamina have increased and my feet don’t swell up like they used to.
‘When I first started walking, I would get very hot and sweaty.
‘That doesn’t happen anymore.’
Ms Green was offered the exoskeleton due to it being the only way she could exercise
She won a race against other disabled jockeys in May last year (pictured after the car crash)
Ms Green loves horses and was devastated when medics said riding was ‘not an option’
Pictured before the accident, Ms Green used to compete as a successful jockey
Now paralysed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, she still visits the animals
As well as improving her fitness, the exoskeleton allowed Ms Green to take part in the sport she loves.
She said: ‘It made it possible for me to compete twice and even do a race against able-bodied riders.
‘I have had to take some time off for health reasons, but I hope to compete again by the end of the year.
‘I’m trying to work on my balance on the horse and preventing myself from leaning back when I’m not supposed to.
‘It’s quite difficult without the lower back muscles, but hopefully I get there soon.’
Training with the exoskeletion has boosted Ms Green’s stamina. Initially, her feet would swell up and she would become sweaty when using it, however, her fitness has since improved
Although riding again, Ms Green still struggles with poor lower back strength
Her aim is improve her balance on a horse so she can continue competing (pictured after)