High Tech Tools for Life

Chelsea Fleisch
Chelsea Fleisch

By Healthcast Reporter Angela Keen

(KHNL) Being physically challenged used to be labeled with the word handicapped but not any more.

The new high tech age is allowing people with physical limitations to live more active normal lives.

It's a challenge a Honolulu woman is taking on after recently becoming paralyzed.

56 year old Chelsea Fleisch works tirelessly every day to overcome her new disability.

3 years ago she was hit with Guillain Barre Syndrome.

Within a half hour of being diagnosed the mysterious virus left her paralyzed from the neck down. She was hospitalized for 6 months.

Fleisch said, "And right away the attending physician said that I was going to be a quadriplegic".

Some GBS patients fully recover from their paralysis but for Chelsea it's been a daily challenge to become mobile again.

Fleisch added, "My personality is that I am a fighter so and you have to be with this illness.

Now she's taking one of the biggest steps since her battle with GBS she's moving up to a powered wheel chair, one that can maneuver any tight space or corner. Chelsea will be the first in Hawaii to have a custom made Toyota Sienna "Rampvan" that will allow her to drive the van herself. All she does is park her wheelchair behind the steering wheel.

With the simple touch of the remote control the Rampvan opens and Chelsea motors into the van with her powered wheelchair. With a click of that remote Chelsea's life and her independence are forever changed.

Fleisch said, "This way I can go (drive) by myself anywhere I want".

Advocates for the disabled praise her, for taking advantage of assistive technology.

"It feels like a butterfly getting ready to fly away it really does it's amazing".

You can see a demo of Chelsea's Rampvan as well as hundreds of other high tech tools for the physically challenged at the "Tools for Life Expo" at the Hawaii Convention Center. The Expo is open through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.