Robotic Exoskeleton Enables Paralyzed Soldier to Walk Again

On June 14, 2012, Marine Capt. Derek Herrera was on a routine patrol in Afghanistan when his unit was suddenly ambushed by enemy fighters. Derek sustained a gunshot wound to his shoulder. The bullet ricocheted off his shoulder blade and became lodged in his spine. Derek was airlifted to a hospital, where he underwent surgery to have the bullet extracted; however, the injury left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Derek was then transported back to the United States and spent six months recuperating at a veterans’ hospital rehab center that specializes in spinal cord injuries. During that time, Derek learned about a cutting-edge technology called ReWalk that would forever change his life.

ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with spinal cord injuries to stand upright and walk.

Derek began an extensive ReWalk training process, and he has since mastered using the machine. “The physical and emotional benefits [of ReWalk] can’t be overstated,” Derek says. “Being able to look people in the eye … things like that, which are just good for my mental state. And physically, it’s just great to be up and walking again.”

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