Seventeen-year-old Ernesto Martinez was in a car crash and suffered serious spinal cord injuries, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
“I was an athlete. A very good athlete,” Ernesto said. “I thought I was going to be fine. I thought I was just going to have a broken leg or something. But I tried getting up and I couldn’t feel my legs or anything under my chest."
By using the EKSO exoskeleton device at the University Health Reeves Rehab clinic, Ernesto is preserving the bone and muscular strength in his lower extremities.
"When I started rehab, it was hard," Ernesto said. "But the more I did it, the easier it got. I’ve been like this for six weeks and that for me to use the machine that can help me walk was pretty cool."
Clementina Vance, Ernesto’s mother, said, “It was very hard for me to see my son the way he was in the beginning. I didn’t think I was going to have him back. But thanks to everyone in the hospital, he’s here with me right now.”
University Hospital is the only pediatric Level I trauma center in South Texas. When children sustain traumatic injuries, our trauma team takes care of them.
“If there are bad traumatic injuries in children, they will be sent to University Hospital," said Dr. Jeannie Harden, medical director of the Reeves Pediatric Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at University Hospital. "Our multidisciplinary team gets into action and they save lives."
Ronald Vance, Ernesto’s father, said, “He’s with the really good doctors, really good people have supported him, the staff here, everybody’s been great. We know he’s going to be in really good hands with his therapy.”
"Working with Ernie has been an incredible experience," Dr. Harden said. "We don’t see kids using the Exoskeleton so early in their recovery. This is very remarkable. I have very high hopes for him. He’s going to do things a little differently, but he will have a very full life."
“Parents, family, the ones who care for me are always here, the whole time," Ernesto said. "They want to help me get through this. They’re the ones who keep me going."