Rob Camm was a week away from starting university. He had just played his final rugby match for his local team, Dursley RFC, and was merely days from beginning pre-season rugby training at York.
And then, in a moment that held so much promise, so much to look forward to, something terrible happened.
Camm was involved in a car crash that paralyzed him from the neck down. He spent months in the hospital and is now reliant on a ventilator to help him breathe.
He never thought he’d walk again.
Now, two years later, Camm can walk again thanks to a remarkable new technology called "REX.” REX is an electronic robotic exoskeleton that straps on to a person’s body, allowing the paralyzed to walk again.
Usually, it’s maneuvered using a joystick, but Camm no longer has the use of his hands.
So he controls it with his mind.
Today Rob Camm, C3/C4 SCI, used signals from his brain to control the REX and walk across the room pic.twitter.com/k8IlJdK6WT— Rex Bionics (@rexbionicsnews) July 16, 2015
A cap is placed on Camm’s head, then covered in 79 electrodes filled with ultrasound gel. These are able to pick up signals in his brain, converting them into movement. It’s simply amazing.
Camm seems as stunned as we are, if not more so.
‘When you haven’t been [walking] for quite a while, it’s just a strange experience to see your feet moving underneath you.’
‘I have no idea how it works at all. People that are a lot more clever than me have worked that out.
And the best part? Scientists are still working on improving the tech. As Camm himself puts it:
"20 years ago mobile phones were big clunky things and now we have iPhones and things.The difference in 20 years is big. If you think that's what they can do now [with the exoskeleton] think in 20 years what could be possible."
For the time being, Camm is focused on paying the gift forward, by raising money for SpecialEffect, a charity which helps people with physical disabilities play video games using special technology.
If you’re interested in donating, please visit Camm’s page at justgiving.com.