NASA technology helps injured veteran's recovery

Published On: May 28 2012 01:46:08 PM CDT   Updated On: May 28 2012 06:14:49 PM CDT

May 28, 2012: A Navy veteran is making a miraculous recovery from a terrible accident, thanks to NASA technology. Bill Balleza reports.


A Navy veteran is making a miraculous recovery from a terrible accident.

Darion Nelson was thrown out of a truck in a wreck while serving in Kuwait. He landed face-first and inhaled sand. The lack of oxygen led to a severe brain injury.

Nelson's original prognosis was devastating. Doctors told his family that he would be in a vegetative state. But Nelson's will to survive, excellent medical care and NASA technology have helped him get back on his feet again.

About three months ago, moving down a hallway under his own steam was considered impossible for Nelson.

Nelson has been getting care at the Michael E. DeBakey V.A. Hospital in Houston. A NASA-engineered apparatus has helped him regain his balance.

The booth was designed to help astronauts get their balance back after long stints at the International Space Station.  It has moveable walls and moveable foot plates that are teaching Nelson's brain how to keep his body upright.

His progress has been slow but remarkable.

"This machine, he hates," said Nelson's mother, Linda Freeman. "But I've seen what he started out as, not being able to balance or kept falling all the time. But now, with the use of the machine and the therapy, the physical therapy that he's getting, he's been able to balance more and do a whole lot more on his own, which makes him excited."

Nelson has a 15-month-old son. Nelson is learning to walk again while his son, James, is learning to walk for the first time.

"He's walking now and I miss it, doing what dads are supposed to do, like change him," Nelson said. "I can't do it because of my condition. But just hearing his voice keeps me going."

Nelson's nurse said she is confident that Nelson will one day walk alongside his son.


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