, GA — Ebony Dillard, a physical therapy assistant at VA Augusta Health Care System, has invented a device that can help prevent falls among Veterans who experience limited strength in their lower extremities.
“Currently, there is nothing to assist patients to keep their feet apart while they build up the lower extremity strength,” said Dillard, who observed that patients who fall often have limited lower-extremity strength due to conditions such as stroke, a spinal cord injury, or vestibular impairment. So, she had the idea to design a “Device for gait, Efficiency, and Balance,” or DEB, to help prevent Veteran falls.
“I named it after my mother, Debbie,” said Dillard. “I am who I am because of how my mom raised me and I wanted to make sure she was a part of it.”
Dillard collaborated with the VA Augusta physical therapy team to create multiple prototypes and perfected her design by measuring all aspects of a Veteran’s walk. Along the way, she tried different techniques and listened to Veterans and their family members as to what felt most comfortable. As the prototypes evolved, so did the Veteran’s walking distance.
Earlier this month, the VA innovation community acknowledged the potential impact of Dillard’s work for Veteran care, naming it the top innovation project across the VA Southeast Network (VISN 7). In addition, the DEB was awarded a provisional patent. Dillard hopes to implement a pilot program to spread her design to other VA medical centers across the country.
Media seeking to coordinate coverage or gain more information can contact Will Martin, Chief of Public Affairs, at (706) 733-0188 ext. 31733 or William.Martin6@va.gov.