Exoskeleton device helps paralyzed Olive Branch veteran walk again

OLIVE BRANCH, MS (WMC) - A Mid-South hero is taking his first steps again thanks to new technology.

Veteran Tyler Densford became paralyzed in 2016 after a training exercise in the U.S. National Guard.

A grim prognosis has changed for the Olive Branch man, who could soon be walking on his own thanks to advancements in medicine and technology.

Densford recently took his first steps after being bound to a wheelchair for nearly three years.

“I think I was a little shaky,” Densford said. “Obviously different than anything else I experienced, but very gratifying.”

It was a movement the 25-year-old thought he would never feel again.

Two years after enlisting in the National Guard, Densford was injured during a training exercise in Memphis. An equipment malfunction caused him to be ejected from a helicopter.

“I was in the hospital,” Densford said. “I had my family surrounded and was you know thinking in a couple of weeks I will be back at work, have my uniform on, and life would be back to normal.”

Densford was told that a severe spinal cord injury meant he’d never stand or walk on his own again. That was until Tuesday at the Memphis VA Medical Center.

“I am about six feet tall and you know meeting people now I am usually the shortest,” Densford said. “Standing up yesterday I didn’t know that my therapist was so short.”

It’s the first of many steps Densford will now take in his to road to recovery, thanks to the VA and Indego’s exoskeleton donating the device for free.

“The Indego exoskeleton is based off of postural cues, it really actually simulates, or it’s much like physiological gate pattern where you lean forward and that lean forward triggers the steps to take,” said Indego Therapy physical therapist Kate Addis.

Life for Densford wasn’t over when a wheelchair became his only means of mobility. He still water skied and went walks with his support dog Abel.

But now there is a new bounce to his step as he returns to seeing the world from six feet tall.

Doctors at the VA will still need to sign off on the exoskeleton.

Approval will be followed by weeks of training, then Densford will be able to take the device home with him.

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