Hospital hero helps girl with cerebral palsy - KMSP-TV

Hospital hero helps girl with cerebral palsy

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Some of the best hospitals in the country can be found in Minnesota, where ordinary people do extraordinary things -- and one such hospital hero helped a girl with cerebral palsy reconnect with her body, regain her balance and improve her mobility.

Looking at Ellie Goodman, it's unlikely anyone would guess the 10-year-old has cerebral palsy -- but less than a year ago, her life was very different.

"I couldn't balance," she recalled. "I had people holding my hand when I was little all the time, making sure I didn't fall."

Thanks to Adam Rozumalski, that's now a thing of the past.

"I look at him and see a life changer," Goodman told FOX 9 News.

Rozumalski is a biomedical engineer at Gillette Children's Hospital's Center for Gait and Motion Analysis, which is one of the premier places for helping children with disabilities move a little easier.

"For an engineer, that's a unique feeling -- to interact with these kids and their families," Rozumalski said. "It's something I never anticipated doing and something I'm very grateful I get the chance to do."

During gait lab testing, Rozumalski can create a precise picture of how children are moving using the same technology that creates blockbuster hits like "Avatar."

"It's the same technology they use in Hollywood to capture special effects," Rozumalski explained. "We have the small reflective balls that we can tape on someone's legs and have them walk through our lab."

In the movies, they use the images to create a person walking. At the gait lab, they use measurements and calibrations to determine how to adjust muscles and bones to help children walk easier.

"This is showing us how the markers and her legs and pelvis move," he said of one such stroll through the lab. "When she's running, you can see how that foot starts to point out."

Video shows Ellie Goodman when she first went through the testing, and Rozumalski took the information he found to create graphs for her doctors. Experts then used his analysis during surgery to make a life-changing correction.

"Kids would mock me, how I would walk -- and pretend to be me and lie to me and pretend they weren't," said Goodman. "I feel like kids could now accept me as I am now -- and still, kids are getting used to the fact that I can be a normal kid."

Rozumalski has been helping children like Goodman for 12 years, and said he found his niche in helping children get back on their feet after studying how to be an engineer.

"I can't imagine doing anything else," he said. "It's such a wonderfully rewarding experience, knowing the work you are doing is really making a difference."

The Goodmans say without Rozumalski, the young girl would be a full step behind her peers instead of nipping at their heels, like she is now. That's why Ellie calls him a girl with disability's best friend.

"He's someone that can save my life," she said.

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