AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- A new device invented by a physical therapy assistant at Augusta’s VA Hospital is getting national attention. The DEB walking device helps patients who have a high risk of falling, gain strength in their legs.

NewsChannel 6 first showed this device a year ago and a lot has changed since then.

Last year, inventor Ebony Dillard had her second prototype of the DEB device. Now it has a new look.

What started out as magnets put inside of two MP3 holders, is now a 3-D printed device you strap onto the patient’s shoes. It uses magnets with the same pole to push a patient’s feet apart making it easier for them to walk.

When a patient has weak legs their feet can cross and it causes a tripping hazard. It can take two or three therapists to help a patient walk. But, once the DEB device hits the market that will all change.

Dillard said she’s very close to being able to help more 600,000 veterans who could benefit from it.

“We’ve worked really hard to get this to where it is now and communicating what we find with engineers and just going back and forth,” she explained. “And now to have a device that’s patent pending and awaiting licensure is really cool. And just to think I had this idea about three years before I started working here, to get from idea to idea to where we are has been really rewarding.”

For the last year, she’s been using one of her prototypes to help her patients walk.

One of them had a stroke 6 years ago and has seen major improvements after just a week of using DEB.

Dillard said she never would have been able to take her invention this far without help.

“It’s just very rewarding. And the VA has been so supportive throughout this whole process. And it’s been a collaborative effort through different aspect. We have the engineers, we have tech transfer, we have the physical therapy department, innovations and even our executive leadership team. It’s been a lot easier with the support,” she said.

Dillard will present DEB at the Innovation Experience Convention in Washington DC in October.

She’s also been nominated for two national awards in innovation and is already working on another invention, but she isn’t ready to share publicly what that is just yet.

Read first story on DEB below.

Photojournalist: Will Baker.