Paralyzed West Michigan woman first to receive standing wheelchair

Posted at 9:26 PM, Sep 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-08 21:26:17-04

STANTON, Mich. -- Emily Van Kleeck has received a life changing device from overseas, and she's told it's a first for the U.S. A new mobile device is allowing her to stand upright for the first time in more than a decade.

Van Kleeck was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident in 2003.

She says she's the first in the United States to actually receive a TEK Robotic Mobilization Device since the FDA has allowed them in the country. She received hers last week.

The device was developed in Turkey. Instead of sitting down in a wheel chair, the TEK device allows a person to be standing but mobile.

Now doing simple things like looking people in the eye that's having the most impact on her life, she says.

About three years ago, one of Van Kleeck's relatives saw a video online about the device and immediately shared it with the family. They all chipped in, even creating a Facebook page. Strangers as far away as Japan donated to help reach the fundraising goal of $15,000 to buy the device.

The funds were raised in about a year and a half, but then Van Kleeck still had to wait for the United States to approve the device being developed in western Asia.

Before the TEK device arrived, Van Kleeck tried to keep control of her expectations. "I didn't want it to be something that I expected so strongly that, if it didn't happen, that I was going to be completely crushed," she said.

When the FDA signed off on the experimental device, it shipped to Stanton but held up for weeks in customs.

A couple days after the deliver truck pulled up, Van Kleeck was already cruising down the street to the local grocery store.

"It's been 12 years since I stood," she said, and "the earlier you get into something like that, the better it is for your body."

It was life-changing, to say the least, giving her a new outlook on life. Van Kleeck forward to the years living life beyond her injury. "I haven't had the opportunity to do it yet, but really hug my husband, because we haven't had a proper hug in a very long time."

Van Kleeck hopes others with her same kind of injury see the device and are inspired about the innovative technology that is out there that may help overcome some of the struggles that come with being paralyzed.