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3-year-old learning to walk again with therapy at Beaumont Children's Hospital

Desmond Davis recovering after having tumor removed from spine

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Twice a week, Desmond Davis and his mom make the trip from Grand Blanc to Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Royal Oak for therapy.

It takes a lot to get the 3-year-old ready to go, but he doesn’t mind. He gets to play some games, but it’s much more than that.

“It helps strengthen his legs while he’s moving which is really hard to do without a device like this,” said Gretchen Backer, Desmond’s physical therapist.

The device is called a Lokomat Therapy Machine. Desmond is one of the youngest in the world to use it.

“The computer is here, I can adjust his steps, how fast he goes, I can assist how the robot is helping him,” Backer said as she demonstrated how the Lokomat works.

Desmond is in therapy because a year and a half ago, the family got the scare of their lives.

“It was a normal day,' said Desmond's mom, Kimberly. “He went to a football game with his grandma and later on that night, he just collapsed to the floor and couldn’t walk.”

Desmond had a tumor on his spine which Beaumont doctors quickly removed. The good news: the tumor wasn’t cancerous. The bad news: Desmond had a long road to recovery.

“He’s had to relearn how to walk and build the strength back in his legs,” Kimberly Davis said.

One step at a time, the machine is helping this toddler regain his strength. All the while, he plays a video game he controls with his movements.

 “It’s pretty cool to know, he’s going to take the strength he learns here and take it with him the rest of his life,” Backer said.

Desmond only has about a month left of work left of the Lokomat, then it’s back to regular physical therapy. Backer said he should be completely independent for his age in one year.

Depending on prognosis anyone of any age can use the machine for rehabilitation.

“Anyone with cerebral palsy,  spina bifida, stroke, head injury, a spinal cord  injury, anything that takes away your ability to move your legs,” Backer said.