Emily Mills, 14, who attends Northeast High School in Clarksville, and was confined to a wheelchair at age 5 after a drunk driver hit her, will soon have abilities she didn’t have as recent as two weeks ago.
This, thanks to an iBOT, a powered wheelchair designed to, among other things, walk up and down stairs.
Mills will need the iBOT. She told The Tennessee Star Friday that she and her family currently live in a one-story house, but they will soon move into a two-story home.
“It stands me up, and it allows me to go through the grass and other surfaces like that.”
But this is a period of adjustment.
Emily will soon receive an iBOT through the American Mobility Project.
As The Tennessee Star reported this week, Adams’ resident and U.S. Army veteran Gary Linfoot is also confined to a wheelchair after a helicopter accident in Iraq. Linfoot uses the nonprofit to help other people like him have newer and costlier technologies like the iBOT.
“With these features alone you start to regain some dignity. When you are out and about in social situations and talking to people we’re all designed to stand up and be eye-to-eye. When someone is in a wheelchair it is uncomfortable — not for the person in the wheelchair — but the person talking. You are below people’s line of sight. People bump into you. With the iBOT you are up eye level with everybody,” Linfoot said.
“You feel normal again. Later on we ended up getting an exoskeleton (wheelchair), and it allows me to stand up and walk. I was able to stand up for the National Anthem for the first time in Bristol for a National Hot Rod Association race. And I was able to walk my daughter down the aisle when she got married.”
According to its website, the American Mobility Project aims to provide equipment, resources, and adaptations to enhance independent living for people with disabilities.
“Emily does not have an iBOT at this time, but we had a very successful fundraiser on Thursday, and anticipate her receiving her own by mid-summer. The order takes time to process and there are some medical steps she needs to go through: prescriptions, fitting, training,” Linfoot told The Star.
On Wednesday, Linfoot received delivery of his own IBOT chair, along with two other local veterans.
“We got her in mine with the supervision of the therapist in order to let her experience what using the chair was like,” Linfoot told The Star. A photograph of Emily trying out that chair is included above.
As for Mills, she said one day wants to attend Vanderbilt University and take up veterinary medicine because of her love for animals.
– – –
Editor’s Note: The original version of this story incorrectly indicated that Emily was pictured seated in her own IBOT. That IBOT is on order and will be delivered to her some time this summer.