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Man attempts marathon in robotic walking device

Adam Gorlitsky was on pace to shatter the world record for the fastest marathon in a robotic walking device. He still managed to finish the race.

Adam Gorlitsky wearing robotic walking device.
MetroHealth

Adam Gorlitsky was on track to break his own record for the fastest marathon completed in a robotic walking device. Gorlitsky, who was paralyzed in a car crash 17 years ago, made it through 15.5 miles of last weekend's Cleveland Marathon. 

At the 15.5-mile mark, Gorlitsky said on his Instagram page, the hills of the marathon course caused the motor on his exoskeleton device to blow out. 

Despite the setback, Gorlitsky was still determined to finish the marathon. He completed the last nine miles of the marathon in his wheelchair. 

He wanted to compete in Sunday's marathon after participating in research at Cleveland's MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute. Gorlitsky is the founder of I GOT LEGS, which helps those paralyzed to maintain an active lifestyle. 

MetroHealth says that those with paralysis like Gorlitsky can struggle with how to move their bowels and empty their bladders without assistance. Gorlitsky participated in a clinical study by Dennis Bourbeau to help address this. 

One way to address this is by using functional electrical stimulation (FES), which MetroHealth says uses "tiny, implantable devices to deliver low-level electrical pulses to the central or peripheral nervous systems to work in place of the damaged neurons of patients with paralysis." The FES device allows the nervous system to do things that "otherwise would be impossible."

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In a press release, Gorlitsky said that he would have to have his bladder emptied manually in a time-consuming process. He is now able to empty his bladder in 3-5 minutes. 

"It completely changed my life," said Gorlitsky.

"The research happening at MetroHealth is absolutely groundbreaking; it’s reversing elements of paralysis," Gorlitsky added. "I believe these are the next steps toward ultimately curing paralysis."

Gorlitsky still hopes to become the first person to complete a marathon using a robotic walking device in under 24 hours. He is looking at other options later this year. 

For now, his previous record remains intact.