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Paralyzed Michigan woman is first in U.S. to receive free standing wheelchair

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But new promising technology shouldn’t be viewed as a “luxury” by insurance companies for people who have sustained spinal cord injuries from a car accident

Emily Van Kleeck, freestanding wheelchair

This is a great story. Emily Van Kleeck of West Michigan can now look people in the eye, hug her husband and reach tall cupboards. Emily, who was paralyzed in a 2003 car accident, is reveling in these often taken-for-granted gestures now that she’s received the first free standing wheelchair in the U.S.

Developed in Turkey, the TEK Robotic Mobilization Device allows Emily to stand upright for the first time in more than a decade, according to Fox17online.com. Instead of sitting down in a wheel chair, the TEK device allows a person to be standing but mobile.

I was not the attorney for Emily, of Stanton Michigan. I don’t even know if Emily has an attorney, or if she has attempted to file a No Fault lawsuit to recover the cost of this wheelchair from her insurance company under Michigan’s No Fault law.

But I do help many people like Emily who are injured in terrible car accidents who have sustained very serious spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. I read about Emily’s story with great interest.

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about medical evolutions such as for spinal cord injury survivors. As an attorney, I’ve condemned the instances where insurance companies, condoned by the state’s highest court, have refused to pay for medical treatments they view as too “experimental” such as stem cell treatments.

Emily’s free standing wheelchair cost $15,000 and as of now, is not likely covered by Michigan No Fault insurance. This is because insurance companies will often turn down medical coverage of cutting-edge medical treatment and technologies that can help people with disabilities, as they want to save money.

Emily had to pay cash for her device. About three years ago, one of her relatives saw a video online about the free standing wheel chair and shared it with her family. They all chipped in, and created a Facebook page to collect donations. Strangers as far away as Japan donated to help reach the fundraising goal of $15,000 to buy the device.

“It’s been 12 years since I stood,” Emily told Fox 17, and “the earlier you get into something like that, the better it is for your body.”

Technology like the free standing wheel chair must be more readily available to people who depend on it to do the most basic daily functions.

Standing is not a privilege. It’s a right.

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  1. Marj D'Alecy says:
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    I fully agree that standing is a basic and essential daily function that everyone has the right to do and the physiological and psychological benefits are numerous