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Revolutionary robot gives Valley children with Cerebral Palsy strength to take big strides

UCP of Central Arizona's new robotic ZeroG Gait and balance system gives users body-weight support while moving along its track.

PHOENIX — A state of the art robot is helping Arizona children take big strides. United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona said it's the only spot this special technology can be found in the Southwest.

Step by step, six-year-old Sebastian is getting stronger, all thanks to his buddy, Wall-e. Sebastian named Wall-e. It's is an innovative piece of technology that helps children like him with disabilities learn how to walk.

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"As he’s practicing to learn and stand in free space, I can decrease how much it’s supporting him," said Atalie Ho Lem, Sebastian's physical therapist. 

Sebastian was born at 23 weeks and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

“It affects his right side of his body and his left leg," Sebastian's mom, Lizethe Plascenzia, said.

Lizethe has been bringing Sebastian to United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona for four years now. The center’s new robotic ZeroG Gait and balance system gives him body-weight support while he moves along its track.

“He has muscle imbalances and so it’s difficult for his body to coordinate movement in the trunk, movement in the limbs, the hips," Ho Lem said.

Sebastian’s progress with his robot is bringing a lot of firsts for him and his family.

“Now I can walk with him holding one hand, which has never happened before," Plascenzia said.

And Sebastian’s mom said this achievement won’t be his last first.

“I know that in the future he will take steps on his own, he will take steps and walk, that is our end goal and my hope for him in the future," Plascenzia said.

UCP invested about $300,000 dollars into the innovative technology.

And a recent study showed children who had this type of robotic training along with their traditional physical therapy had a higher chance of becoming independently mobile than with traditional physical therapy alone. 

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