ROSEVILLE, Minn. - A teenager from Cambridge is recovering from a brain tumor but his battle is far from over.
Ian Williams has had to learn to walk and talk all over again, and still has some big hurdles to jump. But thanks to donations from some generous friends, he's getting some help.
At the Apple Store in Rosedale Center in Roseville on Tuesday, Ian picked up a brand new iPad. It's something he didn't think he'd ever get. As the oldest of eight, soon to be nine (his mom is pregnant) Ian's family can't really afford an iPad.
As Ian opened the packaging, with somewhat shaky hands, he said with a big smile on his face, "This is going to help so much."
Wearing an eye patch for double vision, Ian is recovering from Posterior Fossa Syndrome. The disease set in after he had a brain tumor, a medulloblastoma, removed last summer.
"He couldn't move. He couldn't speak. He couldn't swallow," said Ian's mom Ali Williams.
It's a big change from the violinist, singer and reader he once was.
But Ian has come a long way and he's been told that iPad therapy apps can help in his therapy, so friends stepped in to buy him one.
It was Shannon Shogren's idea.
"I thought, you know, how hard can this be?" said Shannon. "I have over 1,000 Facebook friends. If all of them just contributed a buck, we could buy Ian an iPad."
It took just 11 days to raise $1,000.
Holding his new iPad in his hands, Ian said, "This helps with like everything."
Ian started using apps as part of his speech therapy at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
Relearning how to speak like he once did, one of the apps the rehabilitation team is using for Ian is one that measures the volume of his speech.
Ian's speech therapist, Vanessa Monge said, "We have a goal on what kind of threshold he needs to hit and that provides him that automatic feedback of, 'Where am I and how much effort do I need to put in?'"
Monge said that iPad apps have enhanced medical care. She said they are attractive, engaging, and provide reinforcement that keeps patients focused and motivated on the tasks at hand.
Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota have been using iPad apps for about a year.
They are used in therapy for kids with cancer, autism, Down Syndrome, developmental delays, and more, not only helping with speech but fine motor and cognitive skills too.
Ian used to want to be an Army ranger. He liked to jump over things.
"If something is in your way, go over it," he said.
With a new iPad in hand, he has gotten a big boost from friends, so he can now take new jumps in recovering.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)