Debby Elnatan is not your typical mother.
When told her son had cerebral palsy and would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, this Israeli mom decided she would spend years building a device that would allow him to stand on his legs and walk, just like everyone else.
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In a heart-wrenching stroke of genius, Debby created a harness which allows her and her son Rotem to walk in unison, leaving his hands free to engage in other activities.
Now her invention has been launched onto the worldwide market.
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“When my son was two years old, I was told by medical professionals that he doesn’t know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them”, Elnatan, a music therapist told the Daily Mail.
Out of the “pain and desperation” with her son’s condition she created the Firefly Upsee Harness, a harness which allows handicapped children to stand and move together with a supporting adult.
The special harness is fastened on to the guiding adult at the waist, enabling them to pull the child up to a standing position using another harness attached to the child’s shoulders and legs.
Then, the child and adult fasten the shoe bindings which help the two to take steps in unison. Currently, the product’s design suits one leading adult and a 3-8 year-old handicapped child, but due to large demand, the product may be expanded for use by slightly older handicapped individuals.
A UK parent sees her son Jack walk for the first time
Debby’s innovative thinking has already paid off for nearly 20 families around the world whose children suffer from conditions limiting or inhibiting the freedom of movement.
Maura McCrystal, mother of five-year-old Jack, from Northern Ireland, has been one of the first parents to use the product.
She told the Daily Mail: “Last Sunday was a significant one for us as a family as it was the first time our son Jack was able to play football in the back garden with his dad, his brothers and our little dog Milly.
“To see Jack playing like any other five-year-old boy made me very emotional. Jack and his brothers so enjoyed it.”
Available soon around the world
After a global search for a company to mass-produce her “Upsee”, the Israeli mother chose Northern Ireland-based manufacturer Leckey, which has a long track record in making equipment for children with special needs.
The harness will cost around $540, plus shipping, which makes it an affordable option for parents, who like Debby, want to give their children the chance to walk for the very first time.
Photos: FireFly on Facebook