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Avera Medical Minute: Watertown teen glides up the stairs, thanks to home medical equipment gift

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 10:21 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Medical equipment stores sell tools. They’re not the kind for construction, but the kind that provides the freedom to allow people to stay in their homes. Mark Bauer is the Site Manager for both Watertown and Aberdeen Avera Home medical equipment stores and describes the types of items they offer.

“Lift chairs power chairs, beds, a wide range of opportunities to keep people in their homes,” said Bauer.

A service group approached Mark and asked to help fulfill the goal of improving the mobility of a Watertown teenager, Wyatt Niemann.

“Find some tools or some things that would help him get upstairs,” said Bauer.

Mom Jody Niemann-Priest describes the challenges Wyatt has faced with Juvenile Huntington’s disease.

“It’s a hereditary disorder that has motor symptoms cognitive symptoms and behavioral symptoms. And it’s progressive over time so four years ago he could walk by himself he could eat by himself he could get dressed by himself and now he needs help with all of those things,” said Niemann-Priest.

Living in a two-level home was growing more difficult.

“Stairs became very hard for him to do, to the point where my husband and I weren’t able to help him get upstairs safely,” said Niemann-Priest.

But there was a tool to help.

“So we reached out to them and were able to provide a curved stairlift,” said Bauer.

And Wyatt couldn’t wait for his first ride.

“You know, he smiled the whole way, and Lily the dog followed him. And it was just like this great big event and then he, all of a sudden, was at the top and it wasn’t scary,” said Niemann-Priest.

It’s such a relief to be free of the worry.

“When it’s time for a bath, we can just walk over to the chairlift, he can ride it up and go and he loves the chairlift he thinks it’s fun. He used to love to ride roller coasters, and we have pictures of him hands ‘in the air like you just don’t care’ he never held on, he does that on the chairlift It’s really cute,” said Niemann-Priest.

The life-changing gift is not taken for granted.

“It just made everything easier for us. And so we’re very, very blessed to be able to have that in our home and be able to stay in our home. His condition changes, and this is something that we can keep stable for him,” said Niemann-Priest.

“What it meant for Wyatt was the world. For him to get up to go upstairs and to sleep in his own bed. That was what was worth everything to him,” said Bauer.

Now the family doesn’t have to plan ahead for a trip up or down a time or two each day, Wyatt can go up or down, simply because he wants to.

“It’s very rewarding. You know when we, went there and installed that stairlift for the Niemann’s, you should have seen the smile on his face that was, it was the best feeling in the world. It’s rewarding,” said Bauer.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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