I received a phone call in 2012, almost two years after a motorcycle accident that left me paralyzed, from a therapist in the research and development of the first generation of the Indego Exoskeleton. I was asked a question that was impossible to say no to, “would you like to walk?” I thought it was a joke until I began doing my share of research into what this “exoskeleton” was. It was a piece of equipment that would help me have mobility in my lower extremities without being able to physically move my legs. I was the highest injury level to use it at the time and I understood why. It took a lot of work, confidence, and trust to be comfortable and rely on the suit to do the work, but I was able to do so as the research continued.
My name is David Carter. I was injured in a motorcycle accident on August 1, 2010, and became paralyzed after breaking my spine at the 7th vertebrae in the thoracic level. I spent almost five months at the Shepherd Center completing rehab. I have no control below my sternum but have been able to learn how to walk comfortably and confidently with Indego each time I have the opportunity to use it.
The second generation was released a few years after I began using the device and it continues to advance in better, sleeker, and unexpected ways. After it was revealed, some of the participants used in the research and development were given the opportunity to travel with a therapist all over the United States and Europe to show off this awesome piece of equipment that we have had the honor of using. I traveled to Germany for a week to share it first hand with different rehab centers and give my personal experiences of positive benefits in my health, well-being, and overall confidence while using the Indego.
My wedding day
Then came the day that I was to propose to my now wife. We had been together for almost three years and I felt like the time was right to let our lives progress. After she said yes, I began trying to figure out how I could tie the Indego into our wedding. My brother and I were able to take the Indego to the wedding venue and work with the terrain to see if it would be somewhere the exoskeleton could be used. We found a few minor issues that would need to be ironed out in the moment but besides that, the Indego worked perfectly with everything that we had planned for that special day.
When the wedding began, the preacher that was officiating the wedding, who I have known for a few years, looked over at me once I stood up at the alter and said, “dang, you are tall.” Most of the men in my family are 6 feet or taller and this was the first time that he, and many others at the ceremony, were able to see me standing. As I stood next to him while the music started to play, I looked down the aisle to see my beautiful wife heading towards me. I felt my heart thumping and a lump in my throat as I watched her smile as she walked towards me. Being able to actually stand there and watch her brought some of the happiest tears to my eyes. Most of the people there seemed to share the same emotions that I felt. Looking down at her beautiful eyes and smile while holding her hands made me feel like I was on top of the world. When I heard "David, you may kiss your bride", it felt amazing to finally be able to lean down and kiss my wife in a way that I had been waiting to do for a long time.
While we were taking photos, I finally had the ability to look both my father and brother in the eye and pick on each other like we used to do. This was a very surreal and bittersweet day for me. My friends, family and new family members being able to see me in a way that has not been seen in many years and I could not have asked for a better group or company to help me make this day so much more special than it already was.
Overall, the Indego Exoskeleton is by far one of my favorite pieces of equipment that I have had the honor of using and working with since my accident. My plans are to continue to help with the research and development to fine tune this for so many other people that could possibly benefit from it with plans of owning my own one day soon.
This article was contributed by Indego user, David Carter.