A Fijian polio survivor believes his new leg brace has made him a super hero because it is "super awesome".

Thanks to QE Health Rotorua and Polio New Zealand, Reggie Kumar, 59, can walk again without a cane for the first time in more than two years.

Mr Kumar was diagnosed with polio as an 18-month-old which left the right side of his body weak and almost paralysed his right leg.

His one set of braces were made more than 40 years ago. Despite his best efforts at maintenance, they are no longer functional.


Polio New Zealand sponsored Mr Kumar to come to New Zealand and he was fitted with new orthotic braces at QE Health's orthotics department.

"When I used to go home before, I would have to take off my trousers to take my leg brace off, now I don't have to, I can just pull my trousers up and relax."

He said because the new brace only went up to his knee he could now use his thigh muscle which gave him more freedom and meant he could exercise more.

"Honestly I didn't realise it was going to be this good. They have done a very good job. Awesome is the word."

He said he hadn't had a chance to go for a long walk but he was excited to be able to.

"This makes a world of difference to me. Now if I go somewhere and I have dirt on my shoes I can take my shoes off before I go inside.

"I can just go anywhere. My family are so excited. We sent them photos of me walking and they are so happy.

"I'm not old enough to use a stick and now it's gone. I couldn't carry any weight with my old braces, so I couldn't do groceries, when I tried the new brace on for the first time yesterday I said 'hey get me some weight' and I carried dumb bells in my hands and I can walk with weight.


"Before when I used to go to the supermarket it was very, very difficult, a stick in one hand, pushing a trolley with the other, most of the time I had to ask my wife to go with me. Now I can go on my own."

Mr Kumar said he felt blessed.

"I want to thank Polio New Zealand and QE Health and my family for supporting me. One thing I would like to do when I go back to Fiji is to start a club for people with polio so they have support because we don't have anything like that there.

"I have been blessed and now it's my turn to bless others. This is the first time in my life that I have used braces that have been comfortable. I think Caleb has done an awesome job."

Mr Kumar said his new brace made him feel like "a super hero because it is super awesome".

OE Health orthotist Caleb Van Buskirk said it took him about eight hours to make the brace.

"This is a more complex brace than most custom ones, there's a little bit more involved. It gives him the ability to flex his knee."

Mr Van Buskirk said Mr Kumar could even ride a bike - with a bit of practise.