Midlands boy takes first steps thanks to innovative therapy suit

Braxton takes his first steps.
Braxton takes his first steps.

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A 3-year-old Midlands boy with Cerebral Palsy has taken his first steps thanks to an expensive, but groundbreaking style of physical therapy.

Inside The Therapy Place in Columbia, Braxton Snyder's days are busy and exhausting, using a 'Therasuit' to work toward walking on his own.

"What it's essentially doing is mimicking the muscles of the body," said physical therapist Lisa Schoch. "For these children, their muscles do not work in the best way for the child. We use this to coordinate that better."

Until now, Braxton has only been able to crawl or use a walker. But, Dawn Darby, Executive Director of The Therapy Place knew firsthand that the Therasuit would work.

"I'd tell them, 'you have to try Therasuit, it did amazing things for our own child,'" said Darby. "They'd say 'where is it"' I'd say 'Atlanta,' and you'd see their faces sink."

That has changed. Now, one of only a few places in South Carolina where the Therasuit can be found is in Columbia.
The actual Therasuit fits onto the child and is a series of bands and bungees. The treatment lasts three hours a day, five days a week, for three weeks.

After only a week, Braxton was able to take his very first steps.

His mother says he's only getting stronger, walking longer and farther each day. "On Monday. Tuesday, he took 25 steps and can now stop and hold his balance and start again," said Karen Snyder. "That's a huge improvement we haven't seen before Therasuit."

The progress comes at a price, though. The community and the Snyder's church have helped them with fundraisers to pay for the therapy, which runs about $4000. It is not covered by insurance or Medicaid.

"We are appreciative for them and the prayers that made this so successful," said Snyder.

"They are small steps, but they are huge for the family and child for a feeling of independence," said Darby. "Being more like his peers, to be able to do for themselves."

Grants and donations paid for three Therasuits in different sizes for children.

The physical therapy is done at the bare minimum cost and a scholarship fund has been set up to help families with expenses.

The center continues to advocate with Medicaid leaders, hoping to get this treatment covered for families.

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