JENNIFER Hudson was paralysed from the chest down after a riding accident.

But thanks to state-of-the-art technology, she has been able to walk again.

Jennifer Hudson, 60, of Grange Road, Lawford, was a professional rider. She had what was really a simple fall but it left her disabled.

Having led a healthy lifestyle, she knew the importance of keeping fit so researched different rehabilitation programmes.

She found Hobbs Rehabilitation 18 months ago which has an exoskeleton at its Winchester practice.

Now, thanks to the support it has provided, she has walked nearly 800 steps.

An exoskeleton is an external skeleton which supports and protects an animal’s body. It has been adapted for human use.

The equipment is designed to support, enhance and try to re-educate the body to walk again.

The machinery functions by supporting the body while a motor drives the legs to walk.

The weight is then transferred to the right to release the left and vice versa so creating or mimicking the walking pattern.

Mrs Hudson has been walking with the support of the equipment.

She said: “After three months I was able to move my legs even without turning the motor function on.

“I’ve done 775 steps with the walking frame and it was a really good exercise.

“When I touch the floor my body seems to remember what it needs to do.

“My goal is to be able to support myself on a walking frame and walk without the kit.”

Mrs Hudson and she is keen to promote its benefits.

She said: “I believe more rehab practices should be using it. It’s good for people who had strokes but it works for a wide range of people.

“We need to get these machines into more practices and for them to be a key part of the rehabilitation process.

“One of these machines costs £120,000 but I’d like to get more physiotherapists using them because if more people use them, the price will eventually come down as well.”

Mrs Hudson travels three hours every week for a 90 minute session but she says it is worth it.

She said: “The physios I have encountered at Hobbs all seem to be top of their profession and have a great attitude towards rehabilitation.

“The Ekso Bionics Skeleton is a really expensive bit of kit so sadly they only have one.

“The physio I see in Winchester is Louis Martinelli and he has been working with the Ekso Skeleton for about four years.

“He has a fantastic attitude towards rehabilitation and I feel totally safe when I am in the Ekso with him operating it.

“He gives me the freedom to try things and he gently, but persuasively, pushes my limits.”

Mr Martinelli said: “How much progress you make with the Ekso it’s down to everybody’s motivation and determination and Jenny was so on the game.

“She always wanted to improve and to get better.”

Mrs Hudson wants to work with different trusts to raise money to buy the equipment closer to home.

She said she’s in talks with the Rooprai Spinal Trust.

She said: “Potentially I could raise money with them. When you’re disabled, exercise is so important but so hard to do.

“I am really lucky because my husband always supports me but there are people who aren’t as lucky.”

Richard and Jennifer were married a month before her riding accident.

Richard has built a swimming pool and fitness studio, specially designed for people with reduced mobility, to help Jenny work out regularly.

“Lawford House Pool has been designed to cater for people with varying degrees of mobility, offering an easily accessible facility with state-of-the art equipment sourced and tested by myself.

“Swimming is such a good exercise for everyone.”

The couple rent out the pool and the studio for people with reduced mobility.

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