High-tech treadmill helping Australian boy learn to walk
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Groundbreaking technology that is helping an Australian boy learn to walk was developed right here in Louisville.
Evander Conroy is your classic four-year-old. He loves dinosaurs and pirates. What's different about this little guy, who is full of life, is a spinal cord injury from birth. Evander's spine was damaged by a malignant tumor in his chest cavity.
"He couldn't load through his legs," said Clare Conroy, Evander's mom. "He couldn't hold his own weight."
The prognosis for the Australian boy was grim.
"This child, this family was told since birth that he would never walk, he would not stand," said Andrea Behrman, Ph.D., U of L professor of Neurological Surgery.
Starting a few years back, he and his family made an around the world trip from Sydney to Louisville. More specifically to the Frazier Rehab Institute.
Therapy helped from the get-go. What doctors said he couldn't do was being done. Evander took steps.
"My other two children said, 'Why are you crying?'" said Conroy, tearing up. "It was quite emotional to see that."
And that was before a treadmill was created specifically for children: a game-changer called a locomotor treadmill.
"It's really designed to take advantage of a smart spinal cord," said Behrman. "To help him learn postural control, to help him to learn to sit, stand, and even take steps."
Dr. Behrman and others at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Rehab Center came up with the technology. It uses machines, repetition and a dedicated team to help patients gain mobility.
"It doesn't happen quickly or rapidly," said Behrman. "It's not like a pill or a drug."
The hope is to develop it commercially, so a prognosis like Evander's doesn't have to be delivered again.
Kentucky-made technology is allowing a little boy from across the globe to the take the steps he needs, toward a normal life.
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