A college student from Venezuela who became paraplegic after a diving accident was able to walk at his college graduation with the help of an exoskeleton on his legs and torso.
The South Florida college student, who had been confined to an electric wheelchair after suffering a debilitating spinal injury when he dove into the shallow end of a pool, was able to walk up to receive his diploma during his graduation ceremony, ABC News reported.
The accident happened in 2015, leaving Venezuela native Aldo Amenta quadriplegic. But he was able to walk with assistance in his graduation ceremony from Florida International University.
He said his life “changed completely” after he was paralyzed, requiring him to depend on others to help them do his daily activities.
He said he considered dropping out of school but was able to finish a degree in electrical engineering thanks in part to a scholarship from the Miami-based university and help from friends and family.
Amenta has regained some movement in his limbs since the accident. He had to practice with the exoskeleton for several hours before he was able to use it to walk, per ABC.
He plans to pursue a master’s degree and to keep on working on his rehabilitation.
Another student who planned to walk across the stage to pick up a diploma, decades after the age when most students do, is 62-year-old University of California, Davis student Michael O’Hearn, Fox News reported.
O’Hearn has played the trumpet since the seventh grade but worked as a salesman for many years. When he started having trouble walking, he found out he has adrenoleukodystrophy, a rare genetic disease that affects his muscle control and motor skills.
He first used a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair.
In 2014, he enrolled in a music degree program at UC Davis to rekindle his youthful love of music and intended to walk across the stage with the help of a couple of younger classmates to get his diploma.