Fox News 19 profiled a seven-year old birth injury victim who suffers from cerebral palsy. As with all victims of cerebral palsy, the youngster has faced a variety of challenges throughout his life including both mental and physical difficulties. As our Chicago birth injury lawyers have often discussed on this blog, one of the particularly difficult challenges faced by suffers of cerebral palsy are movement problems. Many are confined to wheelchairs, as they are unable to walk on their own. These problems often require close, around the clock for their entire lives. This is one of the reasons that birth injury lawsuits filed where cerebral palsy developed due in whole or part by medical negligence often results in significant settlements and jury awards.
Fortunately, researchers are working each day to develop products that make the lives of these victims a little easier. For example, the boy profiled in this news story is using a small device on his shin to help him walk. The medical tool is roughly the size of an iPod, but it packs an impressive punch, working to help the child walk while re-teaching his brain some basic skills. The child suffers from a cerebral palsy condition known as “foot drop” which is a form of partial lower leg paralysis. The lower leg problems have led the boy to be particularly weak on his right side and he has a noticeably unnatural gait.
Yet this new device helps alleviate the problem. The device, known as a WalkAide, is worn around the child’s calf, over the shin and just below the knee. It works by sending mild electrical currents into the wearer’ leg muscles, helping to restore mobility to the area. The physical stimulation works to allow the lower leg to behave as it might had he not suffered from the cerebral palsy. In addition, the device actually works to re-wire the young child’s brain. After wearing the device for a certain period of time and then turning it off, the boy is able to take more “normal” steps than before. The child’s parents explain that he could take 300 normal steps without the aid of the device, something that he could never do before the stimulations using the WalkAide. The child’s parents admit that they are thrilled with the progress. They especially appreciate the fact that the device is so easy to use.
The technology used in the device has apparently been available to adult sufferers for some time. However, it was only this year that the device was allowed to be worn by children. The boy in this case developed his physical problems as a result of a stroke that he suffered while in his mother’s womb. Doctors believe that the stroke led to a more temperate form of cerebral palsy. Right now the device is only capable of helping certain cerebral palsy victims-usually those with more mild symptoms. As our birth injury lawyers have explained, cerebral palsy is actually a catch-all term that applies to a range of mental and physical problems.
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