ALEXANDRIA, Va. — They’d no doubt taken more difficult steps since being wounded, but 36 injured veterans are taking their first strides toward regaining some mobility – learning how to operate Segways.
In the underground parking garage of the Lorien Hotel and Spa, the wounded warriors learned how to operate the two-wheeled vehicles.
Segs4Vets is a project of Disability Rights Advocates for Technology, which will present the Segways to the veterans later this week.
Alan Maccini, with Segs4Vets, suffered a spinal cord injury. He says the Segway provides more than just the ability to cover ground quickly, without a wheelchair.
“Just being able to look at people eye-to-eye, from an emotional standpoint, it brings you back up,” says Maccini.
Segway recipient Andrew Smith agrees.
“Sitting in a wheelchair, having to look up at someone constantly – being at eye-level is much better,” says Smith.
Smith, from Chattanooga, Tenn., suffered injuries from an improvised explosive device; his legs were amputated at his knees.
Smith learned how to control and move the Segway around an obstacle course as his wife snapped photos. Smith says he’s looking forward to sightseeing in Washington, without his wheelchair.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t even think about until something like this happens — the smallest things, like getting on and off elevators and going up stairs,” Smith says.
Maccini says the benefits of being upright can’t be minimized.
“It’s just an emotional pickup, being back up pretty much where you were before your injury.”