Paralyzed Marine able to walk again

A United States Marine wounded in Afghanistan and paralyzed from the chest down is up and walking again thanks to some incredible technology.

A special exo-skeleton suit acts as his robotic legs, and it makes it possible for him to get around without the need for his wheelchair.

Marine Captain Derek Herrera is in the valley and spoke with FOX 10.

The 30-year-old Marine retired in November and wanted to leave the Marines the same way he came into the Corps, walking, and that is what he did with his robotic legs.

Capt. Herrera is the first person in the country to buy and use the re-walk system that was recently approved by the FDA

"It's really simple, there're only a few functions, I can hit a button and it will go to a standing mode, in which case it will go from a seated to a standing position. I press another button to go to a walking mode, at that point I'll continue to walk and take steps as long as I position my body accordingly. So every time I lean forward the device is calibrated to how I lean my body, and if I lean a certain way I will take another step," said Derek Herrera.

Crutches are used for stability. A Marine Foundation helped him raise money for the $69,000 device.

"Currently it is not covered by insurance, the goal is to have this covered by insurance, so that once somebody has this injury it is available to them, so they don't have to go through the troubles of raising money or paying for it themselves. I don't think everybody will be interested, I would hope that if somebody wants it, it is available to them because it has helped me change my life for the better," he said.

Capt. Herrera admits he uses his wheelchair now more than the robotic legs because it is faster, but he is looking forward to the advances this technology makes in the next 10-15 years. This summer he plans to create a startup company for medical devices that focus on those who have been paralyzed.
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