Darby Cochran was like any other high school senior, eager for graduation to finally arrive. For this 19-year-old, however, it was an especially important day. Darby was born with cerebral palsy. She typically gets around in a motorized wheel chair but wanted to walk up to get her diploma on her big day. Inside Edition reports that she and a team of professionals worked together to make that happen.
The Georgia teen had some help with the people at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. They provided her with an exoskeleton that has motors located at both Darby’s hips and knees. This helps her walk in a natural and nearly perfect way. Cochran’s graduation day walk was a victory for her and the medical team that worked with her. Doctor of physical therapy Kelly Moore says there’s no better feeling than seeing someone accomplish something like that.
“I don’t think that there’s any other job in the world that can give so much satisfaction and you can just be so proud of somebody and see how far they’ve grown and be there for something like that. It’s incredible.”
The tears flowed and applause thundered as students along with their friends and family and school faculty and staff watched Darby take those miraculous steps.
"What we need are teachers and educators, a society and culture at large, that recognizes our kids have the same value and rights as any other neurotypical or able-bodied child." https://t.co/QfFjZGjVt4
— Cerebral Palsy FDN (@yourcpf) June 11, 2018
Anna-Lisa Taribicos is a nurse practitioner. She was on hand to watch Darby graduate and couldn’t contain her emotions as she helped the graduate up from her seated position in her wheelchair and to her feet. She described the teen’s emotions as fear and excitement that shined through as joy. “It was awesome,” she said. The room full of people chanted her name, encouraging her with every step.
So Darby Cochran had two reasons to celebrate — her graduation and the fulfillment of a dream she’s had for years to walk across the stage for her graduation. She was full of pride and rightfully so.
“I’m just glad I was be able to, you know, be able to walk and show my friends what I’ve never done before. And it makes me feel, and it makes me feel so good to see everybody’s reaction to me walking.”
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines cerebral palsy as a group of disorders that can show up in infancy or in the early childhood years. As a result of damage to or abnormalities in a child’s developing brain, body movement and muscle coordination are permanently affected. Posture and balance are impacted. There is no cure, but treatments are available to help children move around more easily.