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Rehab Institute of KC helping man walk again with robotic exoskeleton

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Every day, patients at the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City are using new technology that offers greater independence.

Walking is something Tom Knaus does not do every day.

His parents had not seen him take a step since 2005, until Thursday evening at the institute.

“I can’t move my legs at all. I’m using my arms to propel myself forward and hit my points,” Knaus said.

Those points are the beeps you hear which guides him as he walks. He’s wearing a robotic exoskeleton. It helps people who suffered a stroke, brain injury, or spinal chord injury to walk again.

Natalie Brandt, a physical therapist said, “At the right time you want to take the step, you have to hit a lateral point and a forward point. Otherwise you take a step and you’re not in the right step, you fall over.”

It’s not easy. Knaus said it’s tiring. But he’s used to facing big challenges. In 2005, he broke his spinal chord.

“I was leaning back against the deck railing and the railing gave out and I fell about 20 feet,” Knaus explained.

With no movement in his legs, he currently uses a wheelchair to get around.

But now with the help of technology, Knaus is making progress, one step at a time.