Exoskeleton Helps Paralyzed Army Veteran Raise Flag on Fourth of July

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Buddy Laddin Exoskeleton Flag
Buddy Laddin Exoskeleton Flag

Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System

A U.S. Army veteran was given the honor of raising the American flag at the annual Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System (SLVHCS)'s Fourth of July event in New Orleans Sunday.

It was an emotional moment as veteran Buddy Laddin, who lost the ability to stand or walk on his own in a work-related accident, made his way to the flagpole using an Indego Exoskeleton.

According to (SLVHCS), Laddin suffered a 36-foot fall and midair collision with a crane, resulting in multiple broken bones in his neck and back, six broken ribs, and a broken femur.

As a part of his physical therapy at the New Orleans Veterans Medical Center, the VA provided Laddin with an exoskeleton that was "transformative in his recovery."

"Thanks to his hard work and the use of the exoskeleton, Mr. Laddin has not only regained the ability to walk, but he also regained access to his favorite hobby, pool, and the ability to grill outside with his family," SLVHCS said in a statement.

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Laddin's exoskeleton, which is estimated to be worth more than $125,000, was donated to the VA by the Soldier Strong organization, reports WGNO. The 29-pound robotic machine is powered by a lithium battery and is customized to his body.

"You'd be amazed just to look at people in the eye, and just talk to people in the eye. It's so much better," Laddin told WGNO back in May. "You miss it, you know? It's hard to believe standing is something that you miss, but you do miss standing."