Robotic suit that lets me walk again; Paralysed crash victim in world first.
Byline: LAURA ELVIN and RICHARD SMITH
A BRITISH man paralysed from the neck down in a car accident has walked again for the first time thanks to pioneering robotic technology.
Rob Camm, 21, became the first tetraplegic on a ventilator to move the exoskeleton with the power of his thoughts.
The robot - called Rex - is controlled by a cap with 79 electrodes that read brain waves. A computer converts them to signals which move the hydraulic legs. Rob said yesterday: "Most people use a joystick to control it, but I can't. What they wanted me to do first was to imagine Rex walking - and imagine the process it goes through.
"So left leg up, left leg forward, left bit, so Rex knows what to listen for. I think about walking when I'm controlling and it does it.
"It is just amazing to be thinking about doing something and then actually doing it. It's a real experience."
Keen rugby player Rob, of Berkeley, Glos, was about to start his studies at York University when the crash in September 2013 changed his life. He spent nine months in hospital, and is now confined to a wheelchair and dependent on a ventilator to breathe.
But in April, Rob started working with experts at Rex Bionics in the UK and Rome.
The exoskeleton - one of just 17 - is kept at a specialist unit in Northampton which Rob can visit.
It is hoped the machine will one day be controlled by eye movement and implants.
Rob said: "Twenty years ago mobile phones were big clunky things, now we have iPhones. Think in 20 years what could be possible."
Next month Rob will take part in a charity race using an all-terrain wheelchair driven by chin controls. Go to justgiving.com/Rob-Camm.
POSITIVE Rob in his electric wheelchair
FAN Rob at rugby game before crash
brain power Rob uses his thoughts to move Rex