New technology gives strengh to local teen living with muscular dystrophy


Every day, 14-year-old Austin Stelly heads to feed Pancake, Rusty and even little Olive.

He’s able to get around his farm pretty easily with some high-tech help.

 “He would constantly fall down. That was one of the things that led us to believe there was something going on,” Trina Stelly, Austin’s mother, said.

Austin uses a motorized wheelchair full time. It’s that way for about four years.

He lost his ability to walk when he was 10 years old.

 “That’s the thing with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and it will get worse,” Trina Stelly said.
“You can do all kinds of stuff. You can put headlights,” the boy said. “It can do all kinds of stuff with these features. It can elevate and recline.”
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disorder. Over time, muscles degenerate and weaken.

The family must to go Cincinnati for doctor’s appointments, which Austin says aren’t very fun.

The teen doesn’t not have enough strength to lift his arms.
But with the help of his neighbors, he’s getting a new appendage- a $25,000 robot arm.
The arm works off the power of Austin’s wheelchair. He controls it with a remote.
 “When he was able to move his arm and he hadn’t been able to do that in a long time, his face the expression was just amazing,” his mother said.
Austin is now able to feed himself again, take a drink, brush his teeth and fix his hat.

But in the midst of the excitement, there’s the reality that this disease will take over.
“There’s a life expectancy,” Trina Stelly said. “His life expectancy is 20.”

Austin’s younger sister also has symptoms of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, although it’s not progressing as quickly.

As for Austin, he’s battling his disease, taking numerous medications, consistently going to physical therapy and just trying to be a normal kids.

“I mainly play on my computer and fish,” he teen said.

His mother said their family doesn’t look too far into the future. Right now, it’s about living day by day.


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