Chris Tagatec is taking life one difficult step at a time, but to him, it's nothing short of a miracle.
"Think about it: I'm paralyzed from the ribs down and I just took 100 steps," Tagatec said.
An accident nine months ago left the 49-year-old in a wheelchair.
"I've been an athlete my whole life, traveled the world doing crazy things and I fell off my roof working at home," Tagatec said.
But Tagatec is grateful he's getting the chance to test a new robotic device at the Kessler Foundation in New Jersey. It gets him out of his wheelchair and on his own two feet.
"I feel like I'm back. Now I can look at you guys eye to eye," Tagatec said.
The battery-powered exoskeleton is strapped over a patient's clothing.
"The robot is initiating the step, the robot then moves his body in the robot and he will take another step, as well," said Dr. Gail Forrest of the Kessler Foundation.
Right now the exoskeleton is being tested on patients in rehabilitation centers, but down the road the company hopes to have the devices available for wider use.
Researchers are studying what effect the exoskeleton has on a patient's bones, muscles, heart and lungs, as well as mood.
"This is an exciting time for people with spinal cord injuries," Forrest said.
Tagatec has learned how to ski and play hockey in a wheelchair, but he has a simpler dream in mind.
"Right now my personal goal would be go for a walk with my children," he said.
And with the help of the exoskeleton, he's hopeful that's something he can achieve.
The exoskeleton costs about $100,000. Researchers hope to sell it to the public for about half that price in two years.
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