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Caleb Freeman (left) with his dad, Rev. Jeremy Freeman

Featured Article

Device Allows Man to Walk Again

Help Sought to Purchase Vital Equipment

(Editor’s Note: This is the second piece in a series of five highlighting the chosen areas of focus for the Norman Regional Health Foundation’s Equipped for Tomorrow capital campaign.)

Caleb Freeman was driving to a University of Oklahoma basketball game on Dec. 17, 2017, when his life would change in an instant.

Caleb’s car hydroplaned into oncoming traffic and was crushed by a 75,000-pound semi-truck. First responders estimated he had a 10% chance of coming out of the wreck alive, and his chances for walking and mobility independence appeared slim to none.

But Caleb is able to walk today, thanks to his fighting spirit and special equipment aimed at assisting recovery. Now the Norman Regional Health Foundation is hoping to bring that same equipment to Norman so others can regain abilities once thought lost.

Caleb spent many long months of hospitalization and rehab. He was sent out-of-state for the last step of his physical rehabilitation. Caleb’s family and health team chose Nebraska, because it was the nearest facility that was home to the technology and tool that would assist him in his goal to walk again.

Caleb had the opportunity to utilize a robotic body-weight support system, known as the ZeroG Gait and Balance System, which empowers those injured and left with neurological deficiencies to relearn how to walk again.

“That was one of my favorite machines I’ve used because it gives you such a freedom. You have something hanging you up but at the same time, you don’t necessarily feel like you are co-dependent on something else. Like, you just feel like you are walking and running,” Caleb shared.

Through physical rehabilitation, Norman Regional Health System enhances quality of life through strength and mobility for patients who have experienced stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, amputees and orthopedic injury.

“Norman Regional Health System wants this independent living skills and rehabilitation tool, the ZeroG Gait and Balance System, available to those we serve in Norman and surrounding areas. It is important for the patient to recover near home and be surrounded by loved ones during rehabilitation which can extend for months at a time,” stated Ben Vandaveer, PT, NCS, MRMC, NRHS Inpatient Rehabilitation Program manager.

·       NRHS’s Physical Rehabilitation department treats more than 500 people per year, of which 30% are stroke and spinal cord injuries.

·       ZeroG allows patients to return to their lives quicker. More than 85% of patients will not need to stay at an intermediate care facility before returning home.

·       ZeroG empowers patients by reducing the need for ongoing mechanical aids such as scooters and walkers, and by returning to independence with confidence.

·       This system allows the clinician to work using a reduced gravity-like environment, eliminating the need for two therapists, allowing more freedom to move without the fear of having to possibly catch the patient if they fall.

The ZeroG Gait and Balance System is one critical piece of equipment in the Norman Regional Health Foundation's $4 million capital campaign, Equipped for Tomorrow! The campaign aims to transform medical technology and treatment services across four vital health care domains: Cardiovascular Care, Cancer Care, Perinatal Care and Physical Rehabilitation. In addition, a fifth project will breathe new life into the Education Center on the Porter campus.

With your help, the Norman Regional Foundation can bring an advanced training system right here to Norman and the surrounding communities. Visit: to donate.

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