Canine companion helps man with rare genetic disorder that leaves him confined to a wheelchair

Mail Online | 7/4/2019 | Mary Kekatos Health Reporter For Dailymail.com
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A man with a rare genetic disorder that left him wheelchair-bound has gained some independence back thanks to his new canine companion.

Matthew Lafleur, from Opelousas, Louisiana, was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia when he was 11 years old.

Condition - Loss - Sensation - Arms - Legs

The condition gradually causes the loss of sensation in the arms and legs and can impair speech over time.

Lafleur, 33, struggles to pick up things when he drops them, open and close doors, and turn the lights on and off.

Help - Zeego - Retriever - Mix - Commands

But now he has the help of Zeego, a two-year-old Labrador-Golden Retriever mix who responds to more than 40 commands, reported KARK.

Friedreich's Ataxia (FA) is a rare genetic disease that affects the nervous system and causes a progressive loss of movement.

Nerves - Signals - Brain - Body - Overtime

Peripheral nerves, which carry signals between the brain and the body, degenerate overtime as do nerve fibers in the spinal cord.

Symptoms typically emerge between ages five and 15, and include difficulty walking, poor balance, slurring speech and muscle weakness.

Cure - Treatment - Focuses - Sufferers - Wheelchairs

There is no cure, so treatment focuses on providing sufferers with wheelchairs, walking aids or prostheses so they can retain independence.

In a blog post, Lafleur said his symptoms became apparent when he was in junior high and high school.

Time - Everyone - Walk

'At a time when I most wanted to just fit in with everyone else, my clumsy walk and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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