Six years ago Tauranga woman Paula Cameron's life changed for the worse when she had an allergic reaction to diazepam, which her doctor had prescribed for her migraines.

She was hospitalised, unable to walk and with permanent nerve damage in her legs and feet.

Up until 2017, she couldn't walk or exercise, she was semi-paralysed from the waist down, she was suffering from depression and had lost control of her bladder and bowel movements.

Paula Cameron using the Alinker. Photo / Supplied
Paula Cameron using the Alinker. Photo / Supplied

Cameron went into the Life Unlimited Charitable Trust store in Tauranga on the off chance she might find something there to help.

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What she saw was a bright yellow walking bike called the Alinker, a non-motorised, non-weight bearing bike without pedals.

Cameron purchased the bike 2.5 years ago and said the swelling went out of her legs, she was able to feel her kneecaps and see her ankle bones.

She started off slowly because the nerve pain was so severe, and she had to be helped onto it.

Paula Cameron using the Alinker. Photo / Supplied
Paula Cameron using the Alinker. Photo / Supplied

Initially, she only used it around the house going from the bedroom to bathroom, the bathroom to kitchen and the kitchen to the lounge.

After three months, Cameron ventured outside to go around the house and onto the driveway.

"The feelings slowly came back to my knees, I could feel my calf muscles working and my thigh muscles as well. Because my muscles were starting to work it also was giving me the chance to regain control of my bladder and my bowel because I lost that for a very long time, and it was horrible."

Eventually, she, her husband and her Alinker were getting out and about – to the supermarket, doctors, physio, cafes, Pilot Bay and Mount Maunganui.

"It gave me so much relief and it gave me my independence."

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The Alinker weighs about 9kg and is designed for people who want to stay active despite deteriorating health, a neurodegenerative disease, or even lower limb amputations.

Cameron is confident enough now to say goodbye to the Alinker and offered it back to Life Unlimited so others could use it.

She can walk unaided and now rides an electric bike which is helping her to stay mobile.

"I walk around Mount Maunganui. I never could have done that. I keep saying, that bike has literally changed my life. It was the best $2900 I ever spent.

"If one other person can get their life back by using it, then it will be a great thing. I want someone else to be able to gain the opportunity and experience I have."

Life Unlimited service and development manager Todd Stephenson said Cameron's story was inspiring.

"We're going to lend the bike out to other organisations so people can try it out... Our name 'Life' means Living Independence for Everyone and that's exactly what has happened to Paula."

Life Unlimited is a charitable trust which has Mobility Centre stores in Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Gisborne, Lower Hutt and from October, in Hastings.