A DEVOTED dad spent months learning to walk again using robotic legs so he could take his daughter down the aisle at her wedding.
Steve Barnes used a robotic exo-skeleton to help him learn to use his legs again after developing multiple sclerosis.
The 59-year-old spent five hours a day practising with the cutting edge technology just so he could do his duty and give away his daughter Coral on her big day.
Steve is one of 20 patients involved in a trial at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital designed to help patients with degenerative illnesses.
He travelled from his home in Reading, Berks,. to Canterbury to take part in the trial which enabled him to walk rather than use his mobility scooter.
Steve told Kent Online: “At the start of the trial I could only stand for 30 seconds.
“At the end they asked me to do it for two minutes, and those two minutes were effortless. I am sure I could have gone on and done more.
“I was also able to balance while looking over my shoulder and reaching forward while standing – it felt quite revelatory being able to do these things.”
WALK OF LIFE How the exoskeleton works
THE exo-skeleton is designed to build core and leg strength.
It also “walks” patients forward and back slowly which allows them to consciously focus on these muscles to improve balance, mobility and strength.
Dr Mohamed Sakel, one of the trial’s leaders, told Kent Online: “The machine takes away the risk of falling and the fear that accompanies it and allows people to become confident in a safe environment.
“They can retrain their muscles and build up their strength so they are able to realise the benefits outside of the machine as well.
“I’m delighted to see the results from patients such as Steve and am looking forward to analysing the data and seeing if we can help even more people in the future.”
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Steve was able to practise the exercises at home ahead of his daughter’s wedding to fiancé James last month.
He added: “It was really emotional – the night before the wedding, my daughter gave me some socks with the words ‘slow and steady’ on and the date.
“I didn’t want to let her down and even that morning the registrar said we might have to think about using the scooter as my legs were hardly functioning but I was able to do it and it was brilliant.
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