AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- A physical therapy assistant at the Charlie Norwood VA Hospital is getting noticed for inventing a device to help keep patients, with limited strength in their legs, from falling when they walk.
Patients working on gaining strength in their legs in physical therapy are at high risk of falling.
Ebony Dillard started working on this device 9 months ago after she was inspired by one of her patients.
“And he was really, really weak. So as he started to walk, his legs were so close together that he couldn’t stand up. So I was like, let me try this and see if it works,” she said.
Dillard invented the device, named DEB after her late mother Debbie, to keep veterans who have limited strength in their legs from falling. It used simple materials to make a big impact.
“So we’ve used magnets and we use the same pole of the magnet so as they walk it repels their feet if they start to cross their legs. If they have weakness or other neurological deficits, they don’t have a lot of strength in their legs so as they walk their legs start to cross. So what it’s doing is preventing that so in turn it prevents falls,” Dillard explained.
Kelsey Shull is the Innovation Specialist at the Charlie Norwood VA Hospital. She said their Innovator’s Network supports employees by helping them think outside the box.
“It’s wonderful. To have the support of our leadership that believe in our employees. It’s something that really sets us apart in our local community and sets us apart from other VAs,” said Shull.
Wayne Floyd is a retired army Veteran who was injured by roadside bombs in Iraq. He’s been using the new device during his recent doctor appointments.
“So I got recommended to come to the physical therapy where this young lady been helping me with my legs, get them back strong. I find myself walking sometimes without the cane, But it’s really been a great improvement on my life,” Floyd said.
Floyd explained that getting some strength back in his legs has helped his depression, and he thinks it could help his fellow comrades.
“Because if it can help me, it can help my other military brothers. Some of them’s in worse shape than I am. But I thank God, if this can help, use me, let me demonstrate it, and help them get it to where it needs to be.”
Dillard said her mother taught her to always strive to help others and that is what inspired her to create DEB.
“So I wanted to make sure that because that’s how she raised me, that I used her as part of this innovation,” she smiled.
Dillard has a provisional patent on DEB and said there is more work to do before the device is ready to hit the market.
Photojournalist: Will Baker.