The idea of "wearable robots" – or bionic exoskeletons-- may seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, but when it comes to this technology – the future is now!
At Festival Expo 2014, learn how Amanda Boxtel, an athlete who was paralyzed from the hips down in a skiing accident in 1992, is being afforded enhanced mobility since her injury through the power of bionic exoskeleton science. You'll also discover how this life-changing advancement has helped her to pursue her goal as a celebrated adaptive athlete and ski instructor, and to become a national inspiration to others.
Amanda is just one of the amazing speakers you'll hear at the Expo at the Washington, D.C. ConventionCenter, April 26-27, during the event's exciting stage presentations.
A noted figure in the No Barriers community and a highly effective motivational speaker, Amanda has even established programs in Chile, Argentina and Iceland, where paraplegics can descend a mountain on specialized skiing equipment.
Bionic exoskeleton technology was developed by Esko Bionics, a California company that works in conjunction with institutions, including U.C. Berkeley, to develop and modify these wearable robots. Originally started as a project for the military to allow soldiers to lift heavy loads and to walk for longer distances during combat situations, the bionic exoskeleton (consisting of a motorized frame and computer) has been further transformed to enable paraplegics to step out of wheelchairs, stand upright and walk with the aid of forearm crutches or other assistance.
"The first time I used an exoskeleton it was very emotional," Amanda recalls. "I had long dreamed of walking and this was exactly how I imagined it." She adds with a broad smile: "It's allowed me to give someone a standing, heart-to-heart hug, with no wheelchair between us. It's hard to describe just how liberating that is!"
A native of Brisbane, Australia, Amanda holds a degree in Primary Education with a specialization in Early Childhood and served as an elementary school teacher and an aerobic dance instructor before her accident. After her injury, through sheer will and determination, she pursued her love of skiing by teaching skiing to others, sitting down. "But on the inside I still ached to walk," she remembers.
As a speaker, Amanda has shared the stage with such high profile figures such as President Jimmy Carter, Michael York, Florence Griffith Joyner, Amy Grant and Vince Gill, in addition to appearing on such TV programming and shows as ESPN, MTV, Good Morning America, and ABC's Australian Story. Amanda is also the author of her own book titled, Pivotal Moments – Life Lessons is Overcoming.
To view other exciting speakers appearing in stage presentations at the Expo, click here.