Meet the real-life Robocop
Once paralyzed, police officer Jeremy Romero can now walk again thanks to a new technology.
In January 2014, police officer Jeremy Romero was in pursuit of suspects in a stolen vehicle at high speed when he lost control of his patrol car and crashed into a telephone pole, sustaining a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down and unable to walk. Today, the Corrales, New Mexico, cop is walking again. It's all thanks to the ReWalk exoskeleton, a wearable mobility device invented in Israel. It’s a major triumph for the 35-year-old Romero, who was given only a 5 percent chance of ever walking again.
He remembers the accident vividly. “When I awoke from my crash I immediately felt as if my injuries were life-threatening, not only because of the unknown severity, but the sound of power lines on top of and around my police unit and the overwhelming smell of gas leaking from my car,” Romero tells From The Grapevine. “It took emergency personnel over an hour to remove me from the wreckage.”
When he awoke in the hospital a few days later, doctors gave him the bad news. “But I told doctors then – and today – I will overcome this injury and walk again,” Romero vowed. When he’d healed and returned home, he immediately began researching the latest technology in robotics. "I discovered ReWalk and was able to set up a test with the device in Houston, Texas, at TIRR Memorial Herman Rehabilitation Center, where I was qualified as a candidate.”
ReWalk was invented by Israeli entrepreneur Dr. Amit Goffer, who awoke from an accident as a quadriplegic, and then set out to invent an alternative to the wheelchair. It is the first such system approved by the FDA for rehabilitative and personal use.
Romero received his ReWalk in March 2015. “During my year with the ReWalk I have dedicated seven days a week with the device, and at times it's very tiresome. But with the quality of life the ReWalk has given me, it feels like I've never lost my legs,” says the officer, who is still on the force, “currently assigned to background investigations and property crimes.”
Naturally, Romero has acquired a fitting nickname, one he readily embraces. “I enjoy being called the real-life Robocop, and the entire state of New Mexico has become very fond of the name as well,” he tells us. “My family and co-workers enjoy seeing me standing tall in the ReWalk.”
He hopes it will take him far, perhaps to elected office. “My future plans are to run for sheriff in my hometown of Santa Rosa, New Mexico,” he says.
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