Norwich, Vermont - October 8, 2010
The contraption he stands on may look a little crazy, but it's helping snowboarder Kevin Pearce get back on the slopes.
"Just to have a feel of some kind of board is fun for me because of how much I love being on boards," Pearce said.
Boarding was Pearce's life until an accident on a training run last year left him near death. It's difficult to believe looking at him, but Pearce started his recovery learning to swallow; walking came months later.
"I do remember I used to walk down the hall and I would look left or right and I'd fall over... and my balance was that bad at one point," Pearce said.
From world class athlete to re-learning how to balance on a board and ball. Pearce is passionate about getting better-- pushing himself-- his doctors say his dedication is why he can even walk.
"It feels really good. It definitely feels like it is balance work," Pearce said. "My legs are a bit tired... you can see they are shaking and they never used to shake... that's kind of weird."
The board-- called a Vew-do Balance Board-- was invented 25 years ago by Brew Moscarello.
"The idea came from snowboarding actually," Moscarello said. "I had been teaching Stratton Mountain in the early days of snowboarding and realizing there was a need to teach people balance before getting on snow."
It may look familiar to some-- it's inspired by the bongo boards from the 1950s, but given a modern twist so athletes can do tricks and move in different directions.
In addition to therapy it's used for training by athletes in the NFL and boxers. Pearce also used one for years before his accident and wanted to jump back on while he was still in the hospital and had trouble walking.
Kevin Pearce: So when these guys sent me the Vew-do board and I had the idea of getting on it because I was so excited to do something fun they were like... um.... I don't know about this it is a bit sketchy. But I did jump on it and I could do it right away.
Reporter Kristin Carlson: So you couldn't walk backward but you could balance on a board.
Peace: Exactly, because I had no muscle memory of walking backwards but I had been using these things for so long it wasn't a problem which was pretty interesting to me.
Pearce is used to being extreme and extremely talented. Once considered an Olympic hopeful, he knows he'll never get back to that level.
Carlson: So is that frustrating for you because you are remembering where you used to be or is the feeling of at least I'm on a board?
Pearce: It's the feeling of at least I'm on a board... Just being able to do that so quickly was exciting, so I knew I'd be able to get back to the point where I was.
Carlson: And as you told me earlier, you do plan to snowboard again?
Pearce: Totally so this is helping me get a feel on the board.
The Vew-do boards were originally made in Vermont, but founder Moscarello moved production to Asia. He was disappointed with quality and moved production to Maine. Now, after finding a manufacturing partner in Vermont who can make the boards, production in Rutland is set to start Monday.
"We take great pride in our state as well as our products and there is something to be said about a made in Vermont product," Moscarello said.
A board that is helping Vermonter Kevin Pearce recover. It's a painstaking process every day. But you can see joy when he's on the board. It beats the treadmill any day.
"I don't enjoy any other therapies on my own, but this is one that is fun for me," he said.
And while we were watching, Pearce he learned a new trick.
"It is amazing to see you progressing so quickly," Moscarello said to him.
"That is the coolest thing," Pearce said. "I'm going to have to do it all the time. I am going to get good at that."
Determination that's bringing results.
There are 11 different Vew-do balance boards... depending on how people want to use them. They range in cost from $70-$150. Click here for more information.
Kristin Carlson - WCAX News
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