The Donegal-based No Barriers Foundation are saying a huge ‘Thank You’ to their supporters as they look forward to a TV feature this week and a busy New Year.
2018 was a huge year for the No Barriers Foundation. The non-profit organisation purchased a revolutionary Eskobionics Robotic Exoskeleton following a success European grant application from Leader.
This equipment allows wheelchair users, ranging from those with mild muscle weakness to those with severe spinal cord injuries, to walk again whilst in the machine, using it for rehabilitation purposes.
With the Exoskeleton, No Barriers established a mobile community rehabilitation program (the first of its kind in Europe) and had 100,000 steps walked in the suit by November 2018.
“We begin January 2019 with 122,000 steps walked in Donegal mark as we launch into a very busy year ahead,” said a spokesperson for No Barriers.
No Barriers will feature on RTÉ Nationwide this Wednesday 9th January at 7pm. In a special report by Mary Harte, the programme will follow former Donegal Senator Jimmy Harte as he demonstrates the Exoskeleton at Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
The spokesperson added: “Our committee has worked tremendously hard over the past year. In 2019 we are delighted that we will be introducing our first two No Barriers Foundation employees, a full time Neuro Physiotherapist and Physiotherapy assistant.”
This will make The No Barriers Foundation Ireland’s first full time stand-alone not for profit Neuro Rehabilitation Exoskeleton Service.
“It is our goal to keep progressing, strengthen the existing infrastructure and keeping driving forwards to obtain further funding allowing No Barriers to offer more specialist services and ensure the people of Donegal have an outlet and support on discharge from care within the HSE,” the spokesperson said.
There are currently 6 Exoskeleton suits in Ireland (300 worldwide). The Donegal Exoskeleton suit and only two other suits in Ireland can currently be accessed by members of the public to rehabilitate: one in Cork operated by Helpful Steps and the other being Gerry McCabe’s suit, located in Co Offaly.
Gerry McCabe was instrumental in publicising the No Barriers Foundation’s drive to get a suit in the North West. He kindly travelled from Offaly to Donegal twice to demonstrate the use of his privately-owned suit.
To date, there is no such rehabilitation equipment anywhere in Ireland available within the HSE.
The No Barriers suit has taken 121,879 steps with patients suffering from complete or partial paralysis to date since services began in March 2018.
There are numerous health benefits to these rehab sessions, including improving muscle strength/tone where able, maintaining joint range of movement, preventing osteoporosis, regulating blood pressure and improving bladder and bowel function.
There are also many psychological benefits the user receives from being able to stand and exercise alongside those within his/her community.
A spokesperson explained: “This world class equipment would be very beneficial in Donegal and should be available for public use.
“Once discharged from rehabilitation in the hospital setting, this kind of support provides an invaluable means of progressing with their recovery.
“The No Barriers Foundation has received a huge amount of help and support since its inception only a short time ago.
“We would like to take this opportunity to say a massive and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has helped us throughout 2018, getting us to where we are today:
- Aura Leisure Centre, JT Physiotherapy and LYIT for allowing us to use their facilities for our rehabilitation sessions.
- Aidan Spence for designing our website.
- Alan Reid for designing our branding and helping with signage.
- Chris Toner for helping No Barriers design and modify our Ekso Bionics Exoskeleton adapted wheelchair.
- We generously received a donation of a wheelchair vehicle from an anonymous source, which means we can now transport our Exoskeleton easily to our remote locations.
- Donagheys Motor Homes who generously sponsored servicing of our vehicle.
- Narin/Portnoo Golf Club for allowing us to run our annual Golf Classic on their course.
- Everyone in the local media for helping No Barriers publicise their work and progress throughout the year.
- The DLDC for helping with our Leader fund application without which we wouldn’t have our suit today.
- Everyone who has sponsored donated money to or helped organise fundraising events for No Barriers throughout 2018.
Help us help you…
“No Barriers is only as strong as the voluntary committee behind it- if you have any interest in being involved with No Barriers or being on the committee you can email us at email@example.com and we would love to speak to you.”