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SPECIAL REPORT: The Will to Walk

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - With the day to day hustle and bustle we may take some things for granted. For example, taking quick trips to the grocery store or going for a run. It's something 44-year-old Jamie Tolle knows all too well.

“I used to be an athlete. I was a business woman. I loved to play dress up in my 5-inch heels and my beautiful suits and accessorize with all the jewelry. I just kind of lost myself, because I couldn't do anything that I used to enjoy doing," said Tolle,

For Jamie, life used to be a walk in the park. In good health most of her life, she noticed something was off in her early 30s. The Brawley resident was tripping on her feet more than usual, exhausted, only able to stay awake for a few hours. The symptoms took a turn after a flight to visit her mother.

“When I got off the plane I couldn’t walk right. My whole body was spazzing and jerking. Similar to someone with Parkinson's or a severe tremor,” explained Tolle.

The spazzing and jerking turned out to be Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, (HSP), a rare inherited disorder that causes weakness and stiffness in leg muscles.

“The easiest way to describe it is kind of funny. It looked like I was trying to twerk while I was walking and it wasn’t pretty," laughed Tolle.

HSP is a slowly progressive disease that may eventually require the assistance of a cane, walker or wheelchair. Tolle experienced a foot drop in her left leg making it difficult to lift, ultimately resulting in her using a cane.

“It affects her neurological system in a way where she loses sensation. She isn’t able to move her muscles as easily as some might think. All these things together that uh make it very difficult to walk in a normal manner," said David Vowels, a clinician at Hanger Clinic.

Video courtesy: Jamie Tolle

According to Medline Plus, HSP affects 1 in 11,000 people to 1 in 77,000 people. A dark cloud looming over Tolle would soon lighten up after Vowels showed her a video that would change everything. The video introduced her to a custom C-brace by Ottobock. The brace allows her to not stumble, so she can walk down stairs and ramps without the fear of her knee buckling.

“I saw a man who had polio, playing soccer with two of the legs. I said that's it! I'm running a marathon, I'm golfing, I'm going back to the gym! You know what I'm going to start dancing again and maybe take up salsa, because I'm spicy!," said Tolle.

Although there is no cure for HSP, that's not getting the vibrant, go-getter down. When asked what's up her sleeve next Tolle said she's ready to conquer all.

“I’m going to strut my stuff around the Grand Canyon I think that’s really going to be really great!," stated Tolle.

Video courtesy: Jamie Tolle's TikTok

Tolle is grateful to the Hanger Clinic and her clinician David Vowels for getting her back on her feet. Now stepping to a new beat, she's making major strides towards a new, adventurous future.

Author Profile Photo

Dominique Newland

Dominique joined KYMA in June 2019 as a Sunrise anchor. She was born in New Jersey but raised in Carmel, Indiana.

You can reach her at dominique.newland@kecytv.com.

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