Page 27 - Delta Living Magazine_october2012

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ost recovery, Jason went through
a series of rehabilitation exercises, from
learning how to live in a wheelchair to
what he can and cannot do with his body,
while Karen, a dental hygienist, took on
a more physical role in their household.
“The dynamics changed a lot around the
house,” says Karen. “Suddenly I’m doing
the lawns and taking out the trash!”
Another pivotal moment for Jason came
while having his truck outfitted for hand
controls for driving with a disability. It’s
when he met Ted, a wheelchair-bound
man working as a wheelchair technician
in Pittsburg. A year later, Jason went back
to the company for a mechanical fix, and
found Ted was no longer there.
“They said he works at some company
that develops robots that allow him to
walk!” recalls Jason, who has since
traded his police badge for a district
leader position at Primerica Financial
Services Company. It’s a position that still
allows him to still serve his community
by helping families for all their financial
Reconnecting with Ted led Jason
to Esko Bionics – formerly Berkeley
Bionics – a company that designs medical
exoskeletons to support the body while
moving the user’s legs for them. For
Jason and his family, this represented
hope for future mobility through walking.
In 2010, Esko asked Jason to test
pilot various software and mechanical
upgrades in the skeleton, and at first, it
wasn’t as easy as it seemed.
“It was a little overwhelming. I had never had to think about walking before,” says
Jason. “I had to concentrate on shifting my weight left and right, to figure out where my
body was in space! I had to rely on visual inputs like watching my heels and toes, since
I couldn’t feel where they were.”
The feeling of standing up again with his 5’11” frame was remarkable.
“I was able to have conversations standing up and shaking someone’s hand – all
the things I had forgotten about,” recalls Jason, who says he doesn’t own one, but
uses their skeletons at their Richmond warehouse or while giving demonstrations in
hospitals or conferences across the country.
In essence, the unit is strapped on and controlled by electric motors. A physical
therapist operates the skeleton, basically like a remote-controlled car. There’s also new
features which allows the user to operate the Esko himself. “They’re hoping to have a
personal home unit by 2014,” says Jason.
A bionic man, almost like Lee Majors
from the 1970’s TV series called the Six
Million Dollar Man, Jason says there are
“Right now I’m only able to walk on
flat surfaces and in straight lines,” he
says. “I walk at a safe speed, more like a
therapeutic walk, however the speed is
While the Esko skeleton is still in the
development stages, upward mobility is
something Jason looks forward to.
“I see God healing me and walking
again is a possibility; and I see medicine
in the next 10 years doing more than in
the last 20,” says Jason, who works with
the skeleton as much as possible.
“I believe God uses everything to glorify
His kingdom and to help you grow,” he
adds. “I truly believe He didn’t make this
happen to me, but allowed it to happen
and kept me alive. I also choose not to
regret my past, because my past has
made me who I am today.”
Life in a wheelchair does not limit his
ability to enjoy weekend getaways with
his family, swimming, hand-cycling, snow
skiing and even scuba diving.
“I still want to get on Tower of Terror at
Disney’s California Adventures,” he says,
“and watch my legs go woooo!”
One day you may pass a smiling 5’11”
guy walking down the street and won’t
even know it’s Jason, the Bionic Man from
Discovery Bay!