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Paralysed soldier able to walk again

Posted in: Armed Forces Injuries Workplace Injuries 

A soldier that was left paralysed by an accidental shooting has been able to walk again with the help of a bionic motorised walking suit. 36-year-old Dale Messenger had been a bomb disposal expert and was accidentally blasted in the hip during a live ammunition training exercise in the Falkland Islands. The injury left him wheelchair bound, until he discovered the exoskeleton suit.

Mr Messenger in 2009 was accidentally shot by another soldier during the training exercise. Two years after the accident, he had failed to make any progress with walking in crutches, despite intense rehabilitation at the military rehab centre at Headley Court in Surrey. Mr Messenger was discharged that year.

Compensation so that he could purchase a £50,000 suit

However, in 2012, he found a number of articles online about exoskeleton suits. After a suit was loaned to him by the manufacturers, Ekso Bionics, he took his first steps in three years. The suit works through the sensors triggered by the wearer’s body weight, powering motor units attached to the skeleton. A computer works out the speed of the motors and the length of stride with a manual control override.

In 2014, the Ministry of Defense agreed upon a legal settlement totaling over £1million plus £500,000 so he could purchase the £50,000 suit for himself and replace it in the future when it needed renewing.

Mr Messenger said: “It was pure elation when I made those first steps in the exoskeleton. I wanted to be upright again to go for walks and to be normal again.

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