A paralysed war veteran has walked for the first time in eight years thanks to a pair of £50,000 robotic legs.
Now the 34-year-old needs the public’s help to raise the money needed to pay for the state-of-the-art exoskeleton.
Chris Baker suffered life-changing injuries after he was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Iraq in 2005.
The former Lance Corporal was escorting officials from the army and navy near Basra when the vehicle he was in was hit.
Initially the Royal Engineer believed he had only suffered minor injuries but an undiagnosed spinal fracture caused his condition to deteriorate.
This resulted in paralysis four years later.
Calcium deposits built up over those four years as his body tried to repair the fractures and this damaged his spinal cord beyond repair, leaving him unable to move from the waist down.
On Monday Mr Baker from Coggeshall, Essex took his first steps, with the aid of crutches, while wearing the life-changing technology developed by the American firm, ReWalk Robotics.
“It was absolutely fantastic, I felt like a giant.”
Adding: “It felt alien, but in a goodway, it was like being a kid on your dad’s shoulders, I felt like I was king of the world.”
For the past eight years, Mr Baker, who once stood at 6 ft, has seen life from his wheelchair.
He said: “Everyone looks so different because I’m seeing them all at eye height.
“I’m actually looking down on someone for a change.
“Everything that my body has got used to being normal just imploded, it’s such a strange sensation.
“It was just brilliant walking up and down that room.
“I felt like I was flying across because I have no feeling in the bottom half of my body.”
The exoskeleton uses motion sensing technology and battery-powered motorised legs to create knee and hip movement, controlled by on-board computers and software.
They allow Mr Baker to stand upright, walk, turn and climb and descend stairs by himself.
Mr Baker was supported on the day by his girlfriend, Caroline Hirst.
He said: “We were friends when we were at school and Scouts and then met again after I was injured.
“She hadn’t seen me walk since I was 15 so she said how nice it was to see me up and walking around.”
Following the trial Mr Baker is hoping he can get a permanent pair of the robotic exoskeleton legs made by specialist company ReWalk through sponsorship with the company or privately.
If not, he will be forced to try to fundraise for the full £50,000 himself.
Speaking about the robotic legs, he said: “They are life-changing or life normalising really.
“You couldn’t go and play basketball or something in them.
“For your normal day-to-day stuff, I could go up and down stairs and that sort of thing.
“They can go on the back of my bike like my wheelchair does and I can transfer to them when I’m out.
“If I don’t get sponsorship it’s a lot of fundraising but I will be having another go in them this year.”
Stephen Ruffle from ReWalk Robotics said Mr Baker would be given a special watch to wear, allowing him to select whether to walk, sit, turn or climb up and down stairs.
He added: “There’s a lot of medical benefits, looking after the bones, looking after the digestion, bowel, bladder control.
“I’ve seen people up to 17 years post accident that have stood for the first time. It’s obviously very satisfying, and can be very emotional.”
Mr Baker is the founder of Bikers Respect All Veterans Equally (BRAVE), a biker organisation which fund raisies for veterans.
He often visits fairs around the country with the group on his modified £12,500 Harley Davidson V-Rod trike.