RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) - About 5,000 paralyzed veterans and active-duty military members come to Richmond every year for care at the McGuire VA Medical Center. Now they will have a chance to do something many never imagined.
"It's kinda exhilarating to be able to do it again," says retired Army Sargeant Dan Rose, as he walks with the help of the Ekso Bionics exoskeleton.
It looks like something out of a science fiction movie, but the robotic suit is providing real possibilities for patients. Rose explains, "After my accident I gave up on the hope of walking and tried to focus on what I needed to do to live an independent life. And so I didn't think of walking again. I thought it was a pipe dream so I didn't try to pursue it."
Rose has been paralyzed from the chest down since 2011 when an IED blast in Southern Afghanistan severed his spinal cord. He first stepped into the exoskeleton last year at a hospital and received his own around Thanksgiving.
Rose now travels around the country to demonstrate the technology and give patients a peak at the possibilities.
"The first question in spinal cord injury you get from people is, 'am I going to walk again?' So this has a potential to say yes," explains Dr. Tim Lavis, the Chief of Spinal Cord Injury Services at McGuire.
McGuire received an exoskeleton today. It was donated by the nonprofit SoldierSocks, which supports veterans. McGuire will begin using this technology in rehab immediately to help patients gain mobility and confidence.
Rose knows it will also change lives like it has already changed his. "I can't wait to see the look on other people's faces when they're actually able to stand up and walk for the first time," he says with a smile. "It's almost like a modern day miracle."
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