19/04/2012 17:38 | By Lee Harvey, content editor, MSN Sport

Paralysed Claire Lomas faces the London Marathon in the UK’s first ReWalk suit



On 22 April, Claire Lomas will become the first person to attempt to complete 26 miles using a bionic ReWalk suit.

Claire will line up at the start of the Virgin London Marathon alongside 36,000 participants but will be the only person attempting to walk the distance despite having lost the feeling in both legs after a freak horse riding accident.

Claire Lomas in her bionic ReWalk suit (© Cliare Lomas)

The challenge is expected to take Claire several weeks to complete and aims to raise more than £50,000 for the charity Spinal Research.

The £43,000 device is the brainchild of Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer. It is an alternative mobility solution to the wheelchair for individuals with severe walking impairments, enabling them to stand, walk, and ascend and descend stairs.

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 paralysed. The brace consists of a light wearable support suit, equipped with an array of motion sensors and motored joints, which respond to upper body movement accordingly through a sophisticated computer based control system.

Claire will commence the race on the 22 April, and depending on the weather, hopes to be able to complete 1.5 miles each day. Claire says: "My challenge started a long time ago, when I first started fundraising to be able to purchase a ReWalk. The support simply to do this has been amazing, from stars of the equestrian world stripping off to produce a naked calendar, to a generous donation from The Matt Hampson Foundation.

"When I first tested the ReWalk, I found the device very challenging because it required balance, which is very difficult with the loss of sensation and movement. It senses the pelvis tilt, and weight shift is essential, which is again hard when you have no feeling in your legs.

"I love a challenge, and there are so many people worse off than me, with less support and higher injuries, meaning that even breathing independently for them is impossible. A spinal injury can happen to anyone, at any time in a split second. Spinal Research is getting closer to finding treatments and a repair for paralysis and this is why I am walking the London Marathon for them."

To keep up-to-date with Claire's progress, please visit www.get-claire-walking.co.uk

You can also sponsor the Claire online at www.justgiving.com/Claire-Lomas

You can learn more about Spinal Research, the UK's leading charity funding medical research around the world to develop reliable treatments for paralysis caused by a broken back or neck, by visiting www.spinal-research.org.

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