Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Segways become mobility aid of choice for many disabled vets

From 10 TV News:

SAN DIEGO -- Some 30 military veterans injured in Iraq or Afghanistan are in San Diego training for a new mission and using what has been described as a miracle device.

Jerry Kerr broke his neck in a diving accident 13 years ago. Confined to a wheelchair, it wasn't until he obtained a Segway, a self-propelled two-wheeled device, that his life changed forever.

"I was able to do more. I was better able to serve my family. My family had a better quality of life," Kerr said.

Kerr got the idea that if it worked for him, it might work for veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan who had suffered traumatic injuries.

Army Sgt. Justin Bond, who lost a leg from an improvised explosive device in Iraq, has been on a Segway for two years.

"When I go home, I'm disabled. When I take a shower, I'm disabled. When I'm on the Segway, I don't look disabled, so I don't feel disabled," said Bond.

The nonprofit Segways for Veterans program, which started five years ago, relies on donations to purchase the Segway, which even at a discount costs roughly $7,700 apiece.

"We started by giving three away to deserving veterans," Kerr said. "In five years, we've been able to give 500 away."

Army Sgt. Armando Mejia, who was wounded in Iraq, has never been on one before but took to it immediately.

"You don't remember you have your injuries. You just whoosh and I always wanted to be this tall, too," said Mejia.

Thirty more Segways will be given to veterans on Wednesday aboard the USS Midway museum.