KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Eddie Deaver's cerebral palsy has caused him problems moving his body so he has to use a wheelchair. However, a group of University of Tennessee students is helping him become more mobile.
"People down through the years have come and put my feet up. What I need, I have to pay for it," Deaver said.
Industrial engineering professor Dr. Rupy Sawhney heard about Deaver and shared the story with his students. "What we do is provide state of the art research and try to apply it to our community," he explained.
Lavanya Marella and four other students wanted to help. For the last year, they've been designing equipment to help make Deaver more independent.
"He could not pull his legs into the bed because he had a bad back and weak hands to actually pull him. So we went about designing different things that would help him," Marella said.
After designing a system, they realized a similar model was already on the market.
Instead of making their own and forcing Deaver to wait, they were able to use research funds to pay for this one.
Now they're customizing it to better fit Deaver's needs, putting pop up buttons on the controller so it's easier on his hands and installing stoppers so the machine won't move if he accidentally pulls too hard on it.
"He's been like a motivation, and it's definitely a wonderful feeling. Once he starts doing it on his own, it will be wonderful," Marella said.
Deaver can't wait to be able to get in bed without needing help from someone else. He says telling the students thank you just isn't enough.
"There are not enough words to express how wonderful they are, that they would take their time to help an individual like me," Deaver said.
The students did this on their own time. They hope they'll be able to develop more systems to help patients with mobility problems.