Claudia loved horse riding very much. She was a phenomenal horse rider and owned several horses herself. She dedicated a big part of her life to ride and to live with these animals. But one Friday, twelve years ago, changed her life for good. She said goodbye to her colleagues and wished them a nice weekend. She went for a few more rounds on a young horse. Suddenly the horse started bucking and reared up so high that Claudia lost her balance and fell to the ground. Laying in the sand of the horse bin she felt nothing in her legs. She immediately knew something was not right. She even knew that she would never be able to walk again. Later, in the hospital, it became clear that she had broken her back. This meant that from that day she would be paralyzed from her lower back down to her feet, for the rest of her life. In that split second, she went from an "normal" life to a life bounded to a wheelchair.
Eleven years after her accident she started a special rehabilitation program at the Sint Maartenskliniek where they made use of an (commercial) exoskeleton. The program lasted for a period of ten weeks, during which Claudia had the chance to train a lot with the exoskeleton. In the end she was able to walk again properly. Unfortunately, after the rehabilitation period of ten weeks she had to hand in the exoskeleton and went home without the chance of walking again soon.
Project MARCH & Claudia
In the beginning the first team of Project MARCH did not have any contact with people with a spinal cord injury who could participate in the Cybathlon with their exoskeleton at the end of the year. Therefore, they started a really successful collaboration with the Sint Maartenskliniek. Based on the rehabilitation program mentioned above and the advice of the physiotherapists of the Sint Maartenskliniek Project MARCH asked Claudia to be their pilot. Together with Claudia the team of 2015-2016 started to develop the MARCH I and to train for the Cybathlon.