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Soldier takes first public steps at SFU, nine years after injury

WATCH: The Canadian soldier who was debilitated in a vicious axe attack in Afghanistan is making remarkable progress in his recovery thanks to researchers at SFU and some futuristic-looking machinery. Leigh Kjekstad reports.

It was nine years ago that Canadian soldier Trevor Greene was hit in the head by an axe.

He was sitting with elders in an Afghanistan village, talking his helmet off as a sign of respect.

But not only did Greene survive, but today he made his first steps in public at Simon Fraser University.

“I’m smiling because of hope. And I’ve gotten an amazing team, and am amazing wife. Life is good,” he said afterwards.

His journey was helped by researchers at SFU, and an exoskeleton that looks out of science fiction.

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Until now, exoskeletons were only used for quadriplegics and paraplegics. And they’re bulky.

But a custom-made exoskeleton from Israel was made for Greene, with a six pound battery pack that Greene wears as a backpack.

He finds it heavy, but the next generation will be lighter.

“Even this prototype has improvements, and I’ve only been using it for a matter of months,” said Greene.

“I’m hoping it will become part of mainstream treatment.”

His progress has blown away people at SFU.

“It’s really stunning actually, because the common idea is someone with a brain injury like Trevor’s, we would stagnate after about six months of recovery, and he’s nine years out. So the fact he’s showing gains at all is unbelievable,” said Dr. Carolyn Sparrey, a Mechatronics System Engineer.

“It’s working way better than we thought. This was really a shot in the dark.”

It’s welcome news for both Greene and his wife Debbie.

“I know how hard Trevor’s worked over the last nine years, and this didn’t happen overnight. It’s such a progression,” she said.

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“I’m so proud of him.”

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