“I wanted to walk,” she says. Graced with tawny hair, high cheekbones, and chocolate-brown eyes, Mena, now 25, is a picture of youthful vitality if you overlook the tracheotomy scar where medics inserted a tube to oxygenate her collapsed lungs after the accident. “I looked into walking with braces, but they sucked the energy right out of me. I met with a doctor about stem-cell treatments, but that was costly and there was no guarantee. I gave up. I had to move on.”
After six years in a wheelchair, Tamara Mena can walk again. Ekso Bionics builds robotic exoskeletons that can help paraplegics walk. All CEO Eythor Bender has to do is create a market for a product that no one knew they wanted.