Richie Neider sustained a spinal cord injury while serving in the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005.
After using a cane to move around, the injury progressed and confined Neider to a wheelchair, forcing him to adjust to life without using his legs, the Daily Mail reported.
The Army veteran told the Arizona Republic that he became depressed and angry seeing other people walking while he was seated in his wheelchair. At a certain point, he believed he would never be able to walk again.
But with the help of his wife, Neider overcame his depression and began to enjoy a new outlook on life.
“What I found out through all of it was the biggest disability is not my inability to walk, but it was the way I was looking at things, it was the mental side of it,” the veteran said.
At some point in the summer of 2021, Neider contacted ReWalk, a company that produces exoskeletons that help individuals with spinal cord injuries or other disabilities walk again.
The battery-powered device works by using a machine to move the legs of an individual whenever it senses a change in the center of gravity, the Arizona Republic noted.
While a typical exoskeleton unit can cost approximately $75,000, subsidies from the Veterans Affairs (VA) office have made it fully free for veterans to obtain a device and train with one.
Neider was approved for trial in May 2022 following a few meetings with the VA.
After dozens of sessions of training over the course of a few months, Neider’s new ReWalk exoskeleton device is helping him walk once again.
“It feels like walking,” Neider exclaimed. “Even though I know my legs aren’t actually doing it, I’m doing it, so [it’s] just an amazing feeling.”
“The machine is doing all the work of moving me around. I just basically make it go where it’s supposed to go,” he told NBC 12.
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