Wednesday, October 10, 2018

"Cervical Neural Circuits" (i.e., Helping People Breathe)

A discovery that could change many lives for the better: researchers have found a way to stimulate dormant neurons in the cervical spinal cord.  Even though these neural circuits are not necessary for breathing before a neck injury, they can help restore the ability to breathe after they are activated. Breathing is easily lost due a cervical injury, so this study represents a very big deal.  Hopefully a next step can involve helping people with high-level SCIs to breathe without ventilator assistance.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Video Update (Sept. 2018)

Another milestone!

It’s funny to think how different the idea of milestones comes to be with this injury.  Little tasks, once so simple, suddenly seem impossibly big.  I had one of those little milestones this past week, discovering that now I can kick my left foot up against gravity, and can even hold it up a bit (video proof)!  Before you dismiss that exclamation point (!), try lying on your back and holding up your foot without using any of the muscles in your lower body.  It can’t be done — at least not by most of us, although many of us with SCIs have tried it . . .

This is one of those small celebrations that portends a large change for the better.  Five years in, I am very grateful to be seeing these changes.  It is easy to feel worn down by ongoing physical therapy and the demands of spinal cord injury in general.  However, it is easier to forget that many others do not have access to any therapy, or if they do, that they do not see ongoing changes for the better.  Having had a “hopeless” prognosis and then multiple broken bones since the initial accident, I truly sympathize with the feelings that go along with either the lack of good news or the delivery of bad news.  Be thankful for what you can do and what you have!  Someone else has a worse situation than yours or mine. 

More to come.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Stimulator Study in KY

An exciting development out of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center in Louisville, Kentucky, where researchers are seeing success with implanted stimulators.  Some study participants are back on their feet and learning to walk again.  These studies, which involve implanted epidural stimulators together with extensive physical therapy, are aimed at regaining function where there was none.  They're already changing lives.
Complete or incomplete injury, people need to see these stories in the news.  Hope is a healthy habit, especially after a spinal cord injury.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Short Note on SCI Awareness

September is designated Spinal Cord Injury Awareness month.  With all of the statistics passed around in September, it's startling to see how many lives are affected by SCIs.  However, what's more startling is how much an individual life is changed by a spinal cord injury.  This type of injury is so small, but leaves such a big impact. 
We can all learn a lesson from being aware of SCIs: little things may have huge repercussions!  No matter how the injury happened, a relatively tiny cut or bruise in the spinal cord counts for a lot. 
So too does every step forward in recovery. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018