When paralyzed students discover that with technology, they are able to walk at their graduations, they do not only surprise themselves but crowds of family and friends.
Austin Whitney, a paralyzed Southern California graduate with a 4.0 GPA along with a love for sports and acting, said, “If somebody told me four years ago that I’d be walking at this graduation, I would have never believed them in a million years.” However, with the help of mechanical braces fastened to his body and electronically connected to his brain, he successfully walked for his graduation day.
“Everything over the last four years and all the emotions of it are really going to be climaxed in those two seconds,” stated by Whitney the day before his commencement.
This wasn’t the first the first time Whitney had walked. On his 22nd birthday, he walked for the first time since his accident 4 years ago where he crashed into a tree after getting behind the wheel while drunk. This catastrophe had severed his spinal cord and impaired him for first four years of college. When he walked that day for his classmates and for himself, Whitney viewed this moment as his “…final incorporation into this graduating class.”
Technology did not only benefit Whitney, but it also helped 23-year-old Chris Norton. Norton had fractured a part of his spine in 2010 while playing in a football game for Luther College in Iowa. While the doctors told Norton that he would only have a 3% chance of regaining movement below his neck, Norton used medical care and therapy in order to slowly regain movement with his body.
Through using equipment, some technological while others not, Norton was determined to walk for his graduation. With assistance from his fiancée, Emily Summers, and four years of physical therapy, he walked for the first time on the 24th of May. With his success, Norton desired to inspire anyone else who had been going through an experience like his. He says, “So many people, including myself, fear failure, it’s human. But it you do everything in your power to accomplish your dreams, at the end of the day, you can be proud and happy with how far you’ve come. Good things will come your way.”
As far as we come with technology, students everywhere are able to experience the feeling of walking at their graduations. These are just a few of the lives who are ecstatic for how technology has helped paralyzed students walk for the first time in years.
Chris Norton walks with the help of his fiancée. Source: NBC News