Chair gives Homerville family hope -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Chair gives Homerville family hope

October 10, 2007

Homerville - Rachel Abbe was diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy at birth.

Her lack of motion was so severe, doctors feared she'd never live to see her first birthday.  "She lost the ability to hold a cup or a spoon and most be fed by someone else and given something to drink by someone else," says Rachel's mother Martha.

She's now 21 and her motion is getting better every day.

Her family attributes this to a chance meeting with Fred Carlo, a Valdosta inventor looking to test a new therapeutic wheelchair.  "Rachel stayed in the fetal position all the time. We didn't even know if she'd sit up," Carlo says.  "Rachel got in the chair from the fetal position and actually sat up."

It's a memory that still brings her mother to tears.  "She had the most beautiful smile on her face, I'm probably going to cry and she had her hands raised looking towards heaven just smiling away and that was something she could not do," Martha recalls.

15 years after that meeting, Carlo has now patented the Genesis chairs, a strength training wheelchair for the physically handicapped.  "They can do stretches, do range of motion, they can do exercises, they can do anything they want to do with it," Carlo explains.

He has presented Rachel with the first one off the production line. 

Now that Rachel can use this chair every day, her family is optimistic they'll see dramatic improvements in her condition.  "I'm really excited about the chair that it will help her, it will help tone her muscles because her muscles are very flaccid. I'm just really excited about the possibilities."

They hope the rest can help benefit others like it has with Rachel.