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Clarksburg teen paralyzed in accident to get service dog - Part 1

Four years ago a Clarksburg teen was injured by a Montgomery County police cruiser driven by an off-duty officer while he was crossing the street in front of his home. The now 16-year-old suffered permanent brain damage and spinal cord injuries and is now a quadriplegic. With little use of his arms he has been undergoing physical therapy to strengthen his muscles and hopes to one day walk again.

The Clarksburg High School sophomore was excited to learn last month the he was finally going to receive a service dog named Millie, a 3-year-old yellow Labrador. The teen is hoping to get some of his life back and gain some independence and confidence for a better life with Millie's help. Millie will be able to open doors for him and retrieve items so he doesn't have to rely on others for many everyday things anymore.

The teen and his family have been working with Canine Partners for Life, an organization that trains service dogs to work with people with cognitive and physical disabilities. In March, mother and son spent several weeks with Millie at the training facility getting to know her and learning about the responsibilities involved in caring for Millie. The two bonded quickly and it appears to be a great match, according to the executive director of the program.

Millie is being trained on the various skills she will need to care for the 16-year-old, and the teen will return to the facility for extensive training with Millie and preparation for when Millie comes home with him in July. There are extensive requirements involved for the teen and his service dog to bond in the first six months and other family members are not allowed to have contact with the dog during this process.

The young man is facing many challenges after being hit by the patrol car four years ago. The off-duty officer was fined for speeding. Reports stated he was travelling 56 miles per hour on the road which had a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour. The parents filed a personal injury lawsuit against the officer and Montgomery County on behalf of their son and a settlement was reached.

Watch for next week's post which continues the young man's journey to recovery and all that is involved in a spinal cord injury and how it can change the life of not only the victim but his family members as well.

Source: Gazette.net "Paralyzed Clarksburg teen to get service dog," Sherry Greenfield, April 27, 2012

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