Dan Rose lost the use of his legs after his Army unit was attacked with an I.E.D. in Afghanistan in April of 2011. But now he’s getting some mobility back, thanks to a robotic suit built by Ekso Bionics and a non-profit called SoldierSocks, which paid for Rose to get the pricey technology. The battery-powered exoskeleton weighs 50 pounds, and takes a step when it senses the user’s weight shift. “Just standing up was surreal,” Rose told Martha Maccallum of Fox News. “Being eye-level with people again was an amazing experience.”
According to SoldierSocks founder Christopher Meek, each suit costs $110,000 to $140,000, depending on the type of software the user requires. There are approximately 100,000 veterans in America with lower-extremity paralysis, and those who qualify for medical benefits receive about $2,700 a month, putting the Ekso suit out of reach for most of them. With that in mind, Solider Socks will be buying 10 Ekso suits for veterans. The group is seeking donations to purchase as many of them as possible for others. It’s a lot of money, but as Rose said, the suit is “life changing.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the source of funding for 10 robotic suits for veterans. It is the non-profit Solider Socks, not Ekso Bionics, the manufacturer.