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Robotic exoskeleton will help Perth paraplegic man walk down the aisle

 

A PARAPLEGIC Perth man has vowed to walk down the aisle on his wedding day with the help of a wearable robotic exoskeleton.

All it took was one misjudged corner on a Neerabup road for Conor McGrory to flip his motorbike, break his back, and lose all leg function on August 9, 2014.

“I had all my protective gear on, absolutely everything. I didn’t have a scratch on my body but I broke my back,” he said.

At the age of 21, Mr McGrory was diagnosed as a T7 paraplegic and told by doctors that he would never walk again.

But earlier this year, he proved them wrong.

For the first time since the accident, the 182cm electrician rose from his wheelchair and strolled down a Gold Coast footpath.

 

It felt like I was 10-foot-tall,” he said.

“It was amazing to be back at my level with my partner and be able to give her a hug standing up.”

His fiancee, Ellie Pollard, 22, said knowing they’d be able to walk down the aisle together was “pretty amazing”.

The liberating Israeli-made technology, called the ReWalk 6.0, provides battery-powered hip and knee motion, controlling movement by detecting subtle changes in the wearer’s centre of gravity.

 

Mr McGrory, now 23, is the first person in WA to own the model and the second in Australia.

He’s only had the exoskeleton for about a week after purchasing it from Making Strides, the only Australian retailer of the ReWalk.

Operated by a “smart watch”, the robotic exoskeleton can be programmed to make the wearer stand upright, walk, turn and even climb up and down stairs.

And like all cutting-edge technology the ReWalk 6.0 comes at a hefty price – $130,000.

While Mr McGrory said there’s no price he would put on being able to walk again, the purchase has not been without sacrifice.

 

Even after the unwilling sale of his modified Holden SSV Redline ute – a luxury bought when he was a FIFO electrician – the couple are still trying to make ends meet.

They launched a GoFundMe online fundraising page this week to clear the debt.

“We’re not going to be able afford a wedding after this,” Mr McGrory said.

 
“It’s going to be pop-up tents, party pies and party poppers. That’ll be about the extent of it.”

Ms Pollard said the couple were trying to focus on tackling “one goal at a time”.

“We have to focus on our priorities and at the moment this one is the ReWalk,” she said.

“Conor is so driven and so motivated to get up and go that he pushes me forward. At the end of the day, that’s what you really want in a partner.”

To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/conorcan


Author: Danielle le Messurier
Date: May 1, 2016
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