Cooper Roberts begins rehab after Highland Park shooting, hopes to rejoin classmates soon

Cooper Roberts, paralyzed in the Highland Park parade shooting, was able to enjoy a play date with his dog, George, at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago. (Courtesy of the Roberts family)

Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old paralyzed from the waist down in the Highland Park parade shooting, has all the motivation he needs as he begins rehabilitation at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago.

Within the next two to three months, he aims to rejoin his fellow third-graders — including his twin brother, Luke — in attending classes at Braeside Elementary School.

“This is a huge motivation for Cooper as he is excited to return to the classroom and see his friends,” his family said in a statement.

According to the Roberts family, Cooper is participating in daily physical and occupational therapy at AbilityLab to help him regain strength and rebuild mobility. He and Luke, who was wounded by shrapnel in the Fourth of July shooting, are also in counseling and utilizing other mental health resources to heal from the emotional and psychological trauma they endured.

The family statement said Cooper is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, including flashbacks that disrupt his sleep.

Cooper, who remains under the care of the medical team at Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago, was unable to fully complete the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale assessment to determine the extent of his injuries and his full prognosis moving forward.

Cooper will return to Comer this week so surgeons can check on his healing from previous heart graft and esophagus surgeries.

The family said it’s seeking short-term housing that’s accessible for Cooper when he returns home. They’ll eventually need to acquire a long-term home because their 100-year-old Highland Park house can’t be remodeled to accommodate Cooper.

A wheelchair-accessible vehicle also will be needed once Cooper is released from inpatient care in the next six to 12 weeks.

Cooper, Luke and their mother were among the dozens wounded in the parade shooting. Seven were killed.

A GoFundMe online fundraiser at has raised more than $1.7 million toward a $2 million goal to help pay for Cooper’s medical care and future needs.