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Centralian’s invention brings smiles

Posted on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 6:08 am

Moreland wanted something better for his son

Brody Moreland, who cannot crawl due to Spina Bifida, plays with some of his toys while strapped into his “Frog,’ invented by his father Taylor Moreland, who wants to make it available to other children.

Brody Moreland, who cannot crawl due to Spina Bifida, plays with some of his toys while strapped into his “Frog,’ invented by his father Taylor Moreland, who wants to make it available to other children.

A Centralia businessman’s quest to improve his son’s quality of life will help children across the country, perhaps the world.

Brody Moreland is closing in on his second birthday.

He also has Spina Bifida, a neural tube defect. That means he will likely never feel his mother Ally’s hands as she puts slippers on his teacup-sized feet.

Brody is semi-paralyzed from the chest down. “He can’t crawl on his own,” said his father Taylor who is known to many as the owner of Moreland Seed, the Pioneer seed dealership immediately west of Centralia on Highway 22.

A baby’s ability to interact with the world is a crucial part of their mental development, Taylor said. Not being able to play with toys and explore its surroundings makes a bad situation worse and drastically impedes a baby’s development.

And Taylor did not want that for Brody.

First, he tried modifying a wheel chair made for babies. “That gave him some mobility,” Taylor said, “but he could not play with his toys on the floor or easily interact with kids his age.”

And Taylor did not want that for Brody.

Other alternatives were not satisfactory either.

One thing they tried was a scooter board. “The wheels would get caught on the carpet. He could not play with his toys on the floor and sometimes his hands would get caught underneath.”

Taylor and Ally wanted something better for their son.

“Brody’s physical therapist encouraged us to think outside the box,” Taylor said of the family’s work with Columbia-based physical therapist Gerti Motavalli. “She motivated me to do that, I just wanted to get Brody moving.”

That led to a three-wheeled, floor-level device they called Brody’s “Frog.”

It worked and allowed Brody to scoot along the floor, using his arms to move him. Taylor has just finished a prototype that allows the front wheels to be moved forward or backward along the platform, determining how much weight rests on the user’s shoulders.

Motavalli, Taylor said, indicated there were lots of children who could benefit from Brody’s Frog.

“Besides kids with Spina Bifida, kids with Cerebral Palsy could use it too,” Taylor said. “There are maybe 1,500 children born every year with Spina Bifida. Dr. Motavalli said other children could use the frog too.”

So, in January Taylor and Ally formed a company. Not to make money, he said, but to get the frog out to children who need one. Referring to Brody’s first wheelchair, not much bigger than a milk crate with a pair of training-wheels attached to its sides. “That cost $1,000 and the bigger one cost several times that. Sometimes insurance helps, sometimes it doesn’t.”

So, the family made an online video of Brody happily scooting along the floor on his Frog, and started a GoFundMe campaign to help build more Frogs.

Currently Taylor is building them in his garage. He has already begun remodeling the second story of his seed shed and ordered a CNC machine to begin fabricating. “I got online and taught my self how to do CAD, computer-aided design, to use the CNC machine,” Tyler said. “We want to be able to help other families and other children like Brody. And with the GoFundMe campaign, we want to get them to children at low or no cost.”

Inquiries are coming in and Taylor hopes to be getting Frogs out by the end of April.

“We’ve got two goals,” he said, “raise funds and raise awareness, all to help these children