South East Wales

Bionic exoskeleton helps paralysed Cardiff man walk

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Media captionAbdul Aldhfeiry said taking his first step was "awesome"

A man who was left paralysed after a car accident has been able to walk for the first time in four years thanks to a bionic exoskeleton.

Abdul Aldhfeiry, 21, from Cardiff, broke his neck in the accident in Australia in 2012.

He can stand with assistance but now the £100,000 technology developed in the United States has allowed him to take his first steps.

The bionic legs have reactors to the body's movement.

"I feel really good," said Mr Aldhfeiry, who walked 119 steps in three minutes.

"It was very tiring but fun. Hopefully I can get to do it more.

Image copyright Abdul Aldhfeiry
Image caption Abdul Aldhfeiry's car after the accident in 2012

"You lean to the left and you lean to the right. If you lean to the right and your left leg moves."

The suit, made by Esko Bionics, consists of a backpack with two batteries, two motors at the hips, two at the knees and the ankles are spring-loaded while there are sensors on the feet and throughout.

The equipment was used by patients receiving neuro-physiotherapy care at the Morrello Clinic in Newport on Wednesday.

A newer version will have electrodes which use the person's own muscles to help them walk.

Jakko Brouwers, the clinic's managing director, wants to be able to use the exoskeleton more frequently but the cost is a sticking point.

"We would like to be able to work in parallel with them [Esko Bionics] for the new model which is being developed," he said.

"We would also like to build on this to do research with universities to enable it to become available in this country."

Image caption The equipment is tied to the legs and is powered by a back-pack battery

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