Meet Ignacio Montoya
Ignacio was valedictorian of his Georgia Tech Air Force ROTC and was the first person to be given both a pilot and navigator slot upon graduation. On his way home from graduation, Ignacio was struck by a car that had run a red light going 55 miles per hour. The impact broke nine ribs, caused both lungs to collapse, and left Ignacio with 28 other injuries. He died four times on the way to the hospital and was in a coma for three months.
When he awoke from the coma, Ignacio learned he had a T4 complete spinal cord injury and brachial plexus injury to his right arm (the nerves to his arm had literally been ripped away from the spinal cord). Doctors told him he would never walk again and later even suggested he should amputate his arm. They severely underestimated Ignacio’s will and determination.
Thanks to HINRI, Ignacio gained access to a Lokomat, a robotic-assisted orthosis suspended over a treadmill. (You can see Ignacio on the Lokomat in the nearby picture in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution article.)
While most people who have insurance benefits use the Lokomat for 30 minutes, one to two times per week, Ignacio started walking three hours per day, three days a week. He has now walked over 650 miles, the most ever by anyone with paralysis.
In his quest to walk again, Ignacio discovered an exciting breakthrough technology, transcutaneous electrical stimulation, and signed up for a clinical trial. In October of 2019, Ignacio moved his legs and right arm for the first time since his accident seven years ago. The picture to the right shows Ignacio voluntarily fully extending his left leg on September 21, 2019.
Two months later, another individual from Atlanta moved her legs for the first time since an accident eight months prior had left her paralyzed.
The Next Step
In January 2020, Ignacio and one other patient began a one-year exploratory clinical trial funded by HINRI at UCLA to prove the potential of transcutaneous electrical stimulation. (Below, you can scroll through Ignacio's daily dairy from his Facebook page.)
You can see some pictures marking his progress on the right. Unfortunately, COVID-19 stopped the trial in early March. Treatment restarted on a minimal basis in July, but even in this short time the progress has been dramatic.
Georgia Tech interviewed Ignacio Montoya before he graduated in 2018 first in his class. Read the article here and watch the video above that was shown at his graduation ceremony.
9/21/19: Raising lower leg
2/5/20: Raising entire leg
Follow Ignacio's Progress
(follow him on FaceBook @From Flying to Walking)
8/1/20: Walking with an exoskeleton