Paralysed biker walks again with robotic legs

Kiwi invention helps disabled motorcyclist lead a more normal life

A MOTORCYCLIST left paralysed by a motorbike accident five years ago has started walking again with the aid of a pair of robotic legs.

Hayden Allen was told by doctors he’d never walk again after damaging his spinal chord in a bike smash. But the New Zealander took his first steps a few months ago with the help of 'Rex' - a robotic exoskeleton that designed to assist people usually confined a wheelchair.

"I’ll never forget what it was like to see my feet walking under me the first time I used Rex," said former mechanic Mr Allen, who's been wheelchairbound for the last five years.

The system has allowed Mr Allen to lead a much more normal life, as it enables him to interact with others on an eye-level basis.

Battery-powered Rex is controlled by a joystick and is expected to cost about $150,000 NZD (£98,000).

The system will go on sale in New Zealand later this year, with a view to being exported in 2011.