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Paralyzed Car Crash Victim Perseveres and Walks at His Graduation

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It’s quite common for car wreck victims who suffer serious, life-altering injuries to become depressed and give up hope after the accident. This is especially common for people who become paralyzed (either as paraplegics or quadriplegics). This was not the case for Austin Whitney. He is proof that perseverance, along with creative ingenuity, can turn a seemingly impossible idea into a reality.

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Mr. Whitney became paralyzed from the waist down after a 2007 drunken driving accident, according to CNN.com. Mr. Whitney could have given up and shunned the world, but he opted to continue moving forward and obtain his degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

He worked hard to graduate on time, and with honors. That was reason enough to celebrate. However, nothing compared to how he accepted his diploma – walking across the stage.

“How could a paralyzed car crash victim walk at graduation?” you might ask.

Well, Mr. Whitney was able to move his legs with an “exoskeleton” created by a group of graduate students and Berkeley mechanical engineering professor Homayoon Kazerooni.

Mr. Whitney pressed a button on his walker, rose to his feet, and was able to walk across the stage with 15,000 people cheering him on.

Here is video of Mr. Whitney’s incredible accomplishment:

I am a graduate of UC-Berkeley and am very proud to be associated with a school whose engineering department was able to achieve such a remarkable accomplishment. Hopefully the “exoskeleton” technology can be scaled to the point where paraplegics across the country are able to utilize the technology to regain mobility.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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