Three-year-old Ari Bott's leg braces are bulky and bothersome but a dynamic new alternative could give the Bulli boy back his freedom.
Illawarra businesses and residents have got behind a Wave FM campaign to raise $4500 to buy the new WalkAide device for Wollongong Hospital's physiotherapy department.
The nerve stimulation system helps those who have lost the ability to voluntarily lift their feet as a result of damage to the central nervous system - such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.
For Ari, who has hereditary spastic paraplegia, access to the device would give him the freedom to walk with or without footwear, to walk up and down stairs with ease and even sidestep.
His parents, Carly and Anthony, said in a recent trial of the system that the changes to Ari's gait were immediate and amazing.
"When Ari walks, his feet, knees and hips turn in, and he can't pick up his feet so he drags his toes. So he has to wear leg braces to help him walk and stop him tripping over," Mrs Bott said.
"When he trialled WalkAide with his physio Jo Morrell [from Wollongong Hospital], it was just brilliant. The device lifted his foot, straightened his leg and improved his posture so he was able to walk far more naturally, and safely.
"It was only on for 10 minutes, and only on one leg, and the results were just immediate."
Mrs Bott said having the system at Wollongong Hospital permanently would give Ari, and others, the chance to get used to it.
"If he was able to use it regularly, and we could see ongoing results, we could then think about making the investment to buy the device for him to wear all the time," she said.
"The braces are bulky, hot and cumbersome and it's hard to find trousers and shoes to wear with them. With this device, he could wear thongs or even go barefoot, and it would just give him so much more freedom."
The WalkAide not only works while it's on the patient, it also helps them improve their natural walking style through stimulation of their nerves and muscles.
When Jade and Travis, from Wave FM's Hot Breakfast, heard about it, they decided to hold a good old-fashioned lamington drive to get one for the Gong.
They have been awed by the level of community support, which has seen lamington orders flowing in along with cash donations.
"This is an amazing piece of technology but parents currently need to travel to Sydney to let their kids trial it," Travis said.
"The generosity of the Illawarra to help get a WalkAide system here in Wollongong has just been mind-blowing."
The lamington drive will be held during the Hot Breakfast on Friday, from 6am to 9am but you can pre-order or donate by visiting wavefm.com.au.