Milwaukee man learning to walk using robotic device

NOW: Milwaukee man learning to walk using robotic device

WEST ALLIS, Wis (CBS 58) --- After suffering a spinal cord injury, Oliver Nepper is all for trying new things. Oliver has been in a wheelchair since childhood, but now, a new piece of technology is providing new hope.

"I walked with leg braces, walkers, canes, all the way through elementary school and then at the end...I moved into the wheelchair full-time," Oliver said.

Years of physical therapy and trying to learn to walk were unsuccessful until Oliver first came to the Neuro Rehab Clinic at Aurora West Allis Medical Center back in 2022. Soon after, it was determined that Oliver was a candidate for the exoskeleton.

"Oliver started working in the exo device with one of our physical therapists, Josh, and has made incredible gains. Like gains that we would never expect from somebody with a chronic injury," said Sarah Danfort, rehab supervisor.

Danfort says the exoskeleton is a fantastic tool.

"It's a wearable, robotic device that helps with overground or walking training. It's really amazing. It can do all of the walking tasks for a patient. It can do a component of it... we can also apply resistance so somebody can actually be strength training," she said.

Oliver describes the device differently.

"It feels like a really heavy hug," Oliver said.

Oliver is an athlete. "I played wheelchair basketball for 12 years. I competitively swam for seven years."

Now, Oliver is taking up ballroom dancing, so pushing limits comes from the heart. During weekly physical therapy sessions, the wearable suit has helped Oliver gain strength and feeling in the legs in less than a year.

"I'm really excited. I never expected to get this far with it so now I'm really excited to see how far I can keep going, and it's opened a world of possibilities and opportunities, and it's helped me to feel confident in other areas of my life as well," Oliver said.

Share this article: