Hospital worker invents walking trainer
By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
July 30, 2002
Clarence Rice was just days away from celebrating his 65th birthday when a stroke changed all of his plans.
He remembers part of that February day as uneventful, the part before his medical emergency.
After the stroke, Rice lost partial feeling in the right side of his body and could not walk. Weeks later, doctors also had to remove a brain aneurysm.
And then, Rice met Reggie Johnson and a device Johnson invented called a Leblok, which creates uneven walking surfaces that physically and mentally challenge patients who must learn to walk again.
Johnson, a licensed physical therapist assistant at Riley Hospital, created the Leblok around the same time Rice had his stroke. And now, the device is helping Rice and others learn to walk again.
Johnson said it sparked him to go home and sketch out his new creation on a piece of paper. Today, the Leblok has several different variations, including the original idea of a molded rock surface.
Other surfaces include two-and-six-inch hurdles, which also can be used with the rock-like surface. The surfaces are used to help the patients learn to keep their balance.
Johnson got a local wood-working company to construct the latest device used at the hospital today. Johnson has a patent pending on the Leblok and is looking to market it in the future.
The Leblok and other devices Johnson created have fellow hospital workers amazed.
Townsend said she hopes Johnson's inventions will continue to help patients like Rice walk again.
While working on the Johnson's latest invention during his rehabilitation session on Monday, Rice improved his walking with every step.
Rice shot back, "I like anything that makes me work. And this is making me work."