A national group of paralyzed veterans is in North Texas this week showcasing the newest technology and healthcare advancements for disabled vets.
Something as simple as being able to stand and walk around is an impossible task for some of the paralyzed veterans at the event. But the technology on display makes what seemed impossible before a reality for them.
Technology changed Gene Laureano's life. The Army veteran was paralyzed from the waist down after his service when he accidentally fell 20 feet from a ladder while working as a welder.
“The ladder landed on its side and I landed against the ladder on my back and that's how I ended up in this,” Laureano said.
Along with a re-walk device that allows him to live life beyond his wheelchair, Laureano also came across gym equipment developed by the non-profit warrior medical and fitness.
“When you look at it, you can already see that's made for me,” Laureano said.
The machine allows those in a wheelchair like Laureano to move in and out easily without having to waste energy re-adjusting their chairs to a traditional workout machine.
“There are people out here that even though they're paralyzed, choose to not only exist in life, they want to participate in life. I choose to participate through this, this helps me do that,” Laureano said.
Other devices like an Obi robot help disabled vets eat on their own and a standup wheelchair helps vets stand and get around.
“Everybody's trying to find the next thing that will make them more self-dependent and not have to worry about having other people help them, this gives them that independence and confidence to go out in the world,” said David Zurfluh, president, Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The event brings healthcare professionals from VA hospitals and disabled veterans together to share knowledge and spread it to their communities.
“A lot of this stuff is not something you're going to point to and go, OMG that's the most life changing thing if you're an able bodied person. But if you're in a wheelchair and you understand what that truly means, it's game changing,” said Shaun Castle, Deputy Exec. Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Some of the devices are donated or purchased for veterans, others receive help through insurance or their local VA hospital to get the life-changing technology.
The Paralyzed Veterans of America event runs through Thursday.