UH students working on device to change the lives of paraplegics

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UH students working on device to give new hope for paraplegics

Nearly 300,000 thousand people in the United States are living with spinal cord injuries. Selvin Velasquez is one of those people.

"I used to be a semi-professional soccer player," said Velasquez.

But in 1995, his entire life would change. Velasquez suffered an accident at work and was told he would spend the rest of his life using a wheelchair. Velasquez said the news sent him on a downward spiral of depression.

"I didn't go anywhere else I was in my room (and went to) therapy I didn't go outside," said Velasquez.

Velasquez continued to long for what so many of us take for granted - the ability to walk.

However, a group of engineering students from the University of Houston are giving people like Velasquez a reason to hope. They call themselves, Quantek and they are working on a wheel-driven exoskeleton to help paraplegics or people with spinal cord injuries.

"Our device is going to be able to reduce muscle spasticity which occurs from not using the muscles in the legs," said UH student, Eli Gonzalez.

The current prototype, named "Janus", is designed to assist the user from a "sitting position" to a "standing position". "Janus" looks similar to a Segway, The user will be able to control it using a handheld joystick.

"This device is going to change people's lives," said Velasquez.

The students are excited to see what their device can do, but they don't have the money to build it. They told us even a prototype would set them back $7,000. The engineering group developed a Go Fund Me page in hopes of collecting the money they need.

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