8-year-old boy paralyzed in Highland Park shooting no longer requires IV pain medicine and feeding tube, family says

Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old boy who was severely injured in the Fourth of July parade mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, no longer requires IV pain medicine or a feeding tube.

By Elizabeth Wolfe and Raja Razek, CNN

(CNN) -- The 8-year-old boy who was severely injured in the Fourth of July parade mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, no longer requires IV pain medicine and antibiotics and can now eat without a feeding tube, his family said Tuesday.

Cooper Roberts was left paralyzed by the shooting and had to undergo several critical surgeries in order to survive his injuries, which included a severed spinal cord and a partially collapsed lung, his family has said. During his recovery, he has been on heavy painkillers and felt "constant pain" from slow-healing internal wounds, the family previously shared.

"Removing all the tubes has been a huge mood booster for Cooper, to be able to eat some of his favorite foods and to start maneuvering his wheelchair better without the tubes getting in his way and causing him pain," the boy's family said in an update.

Cooper has started to eat "the foods he's been craving," his family said, including Lay's dill pickle-flavored chips, Cheetos and Chick-fil-A.

"We are all so happy to see him eat -- and will be working to get some fruits and vegetables back in the rotation!" the family said.

Cooper and members of his family were among dozens of parade-goers injured by a gunman who opened fire from a rooftop onto the crowd below. Seven people were killed in the attack.

The family has been providing regular updates on Cooper's condition in an effort to show the challenges of his difficult recovery. They previously shared that the boy has struggled with feeling "hopeless, sad and angry as the reality of his life is setting in."

Cooper's energy has started to return, the family said, "as he participates in a wheelchair race down the hallway at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab with his physical therapists."

He also also had a "special visit" from former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in 2017 that left him temporarily paralyzed.

"Ryan was transparent, authentic, genuine and gracious in sharing insights with us about his path to recovery," the family said.

Covid-19 restrictions limit how much time the whole family can spend with Cooper. Cooper especially misses his twin brother Luke, who he was able to spend some quality time with this week, the Roberts' said.

Multiple members of the Roberts family were injured in the shooting; Luke was struck by shrapnel and released after treatment, a family spokesperson has previously said. His mother, Keely Roberts, "was shot in the leg and foot area" and underwent several surgeries but was discharged because she wanted to be by Cooper's side, the spokesperson said.

As Cooper continues to recover, the family says doctors are still unsure how much of his mobility will fully return and "what limitations we will live with for his lifetime."

"We do know that we are infinitely grateful for his survival, and for the many kindnesses we continue to receive, including from all who are working to help Cooper and others impacted heal from this nightmare."

A verified GoFundMe has been created to assist with Cooper's medical expenses.

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