PHILANTHROPY MOVES U.S. VETS FROM WHEELCHAIRS TO SEGWAYS


Thanks to a nonprofit group, amputees wounded in war are getting
around not in wheelchairs but in Segways. The advantages, they say,
are they can move about in an upright position and people no longer
look down on them.

U.S. Army Sgt. Jacque Keeslar lost both legs in Iraq nearly two years ago. To get around, he relies on a wheelchair and a pair of artificial legs, which help him walk in short bursts.

Veterans at Walter Reed are using Segways that are custom designed for their injuries to get around.

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Veterans at Walter Reed are using Segways that
are custom designed for their injuries to get around

“If I have to do a half mile or mile of walking, it just exhausts me,” Keeslar said.

Now, thanks to a specially designed Segway, the battery-powered transporter, Keeslar says he can ditch his wheelchair and get around without people looking down on him.

Keeslar was among 30 vets who received their own modified Segways this week, courtesy of Disability Rights Advocates for Technology.

The nonprofit group presented its latest batch of Segways to the veterans in a ceremony Wednesday at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia. That brings the number of Segways they have donated to vets to about 150.

Leonard Timm, who founded DRAFT in 2005, calls the mission “Segs-4-Vets.”

“[The Segways] provide them with another mobility option that will increase their distance, and will give them a way to communicate with the world standing up,” Timm said.

Segway-equipped amputees in physical therapy at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center train on their new rides as part of an informal club at the facility. On Fridays, they wheel their machines as a group around the site in Washington.

The machines cost about $6,000 each and are provided at a discount to DRAFT by Segway dealers around the country. The manufacturer, cautious that the machine is not certified as a medical device, has not been directly involved in the campaign, which is supported by donations.

The machines are popular with law enforcement for sidewalk patrols. Recently, tourists have started using them to go sightseeing.

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