Suit allows paralyzed veterans to walk

- Just a few years ago, it would have been impossible.  But with new technology, people who are paralyzed are able to get up and walk.

Doctors told Army veteran Stephen Bush he'd never walk again after a bike accident in 1995, but he never gave up.

"Your injury shouldn't stop you from living," the 53-year-old Tampa native said.  "You just have to do things differently."

He never dreamed how different it could be. At the Spinal Cord Injury Center at Tampa's Haley V.A. Hospital, Bush was fitted with a ReWalk exoskeleton suit that allows him to walk.

"I continue to shift left and right and maintain position," explained Bush as he strode across a small park outside the hospital.

He guides the suit with his balance and body weight, activating small electric motors to propel his legs. A helper goes along to steady him.

Tampa is one of a handful of V.A. hospitals in the country testing the technology.

"Hopefully, five or 10 years from now, this is normal, routine, that patients come in, they get their exoskeleton, and go home with it," offered Dr. Kevin White, head of the Spinal Cord Injury Center.

The suit is expensive -- over $70,000 -- but like other technology, the price could come down. If the test goes well, more paralyzed veterans could stand up.

And for a man who was told he'd never walk again, Bush is taking some big strides.

"Now, being up in the device, we can talk eye-to-eye," he smiled.

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