Laredo teen paralyzed in car crash during winter storm is back standing on his feet

This is all thanks to an incredible piece of technology at University Hospital — The Exoskeleton

Paralyzed teen discharged from hospital's rehab center, thanks to new piece of technology
Paralyzed teen discharged from hospital's rehab center, thanks to new piece of technology

SAN ANTONIO – He was paralyzed in a car accident during the winter storm in South Texas, and now, he’s already standing on his feet.

Ernie Martinez, 16, received treatment at a unique center at University Hospital, and doctors there are amazed at his recovery so far.

This week, he was finally discharged from the rehab center, all thanks to an incredible piece of technology.

This all stemmed from a crash Martinez was involved in on Feb. 14. He almost lost his life on the icy roads of Laredo, where he’s from.

Following the crash, Martinez woke up at University Hospital in San Antonio.

“There was a little block of ice. We kind of shifted to the left and right and left again and we went into the ditch and we started flipping,” Martinez said. “I don’t remember flying out, but I remember being in the air, seeing the floor. I passed out.”

Dr. Jeannie Harden is the director of University Hospital’s Pediatric Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit, which just opened in October 2019. It’s the only center of its kind in South Texas, allowing severely injured children to accomplish the impossible.

Other doctors said Martinez may never walk again, yet here he is, all thanks to a wearable machine called “The Exoskeleton.”

The machine allows patients to stand and walk, which stretches Ernie’s muscles and puts pressure on his bones, preserving bone health and preparing him to one day walk on his own again.

“I just want my legs back. I’m going to get them soon. The Exoskeleton will help me get them back,” Martinez said.

Martinez’s family wants other people with spinal cord injuries to know attitude and support matter, and improvement is possible.

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About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.