I am Jimmie, a 64-year-old male, who sustained an incomplete spinal cord injury (T4AIS.D) at the T8-T9 level while standing still in a line of waiting traffic and being struck from behind by another vehicle estimated to be traveling at a speed of 40+ mph. The resultant injuries culminated in a 3-week intensive care hospitalization at the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore followed by a six-week inpatient stay at the Kessler Center for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey. Following a 5 week adjustment period to being at home and no longer receiving the support services of an inpatient facility, I began outpatient physical and occupational therapy at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI) at Kennedy Krieger Institute affiliated with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.
Upon entering therapy (6 hours of PT and 2 hours of OT weekly) at ICSCI, I was extremely limited and required the assistance of another person to accomplish anything. Standing, and only for a brief period, required a two-person assist, transfers were accomplished only through power lift or transfer board, and sitting required support. Therapy initially focused on developing core muscles, stretching and manipulating stiff muscles, learning how to move an injured body, and understanding how the human brain communicates with the body. On the third day of therapy, I was introduced to electrical stimulation via RTI 300 as a way of triggering the brain and muscles to work together.
One month later I was introduced to the MyoCycle as an alternative. I was immediately impressed with how the electrical stimulus pulsated throughout my leg muscles. It felt smoother and “less shocking.” I sensed stronger force output and found the electrical stimulation to be more tolerable. My muscle tone and strength increased as I spent 3 hours per week on the MyoCycle. I felt stronger, more physically fit, and was able to tolerate more activities. About 2 months later I was able to transfer on my own without lift or board. I was able to stand with the aid of a walker. Most exciting to me was the fact that mentally I could now isolate my muscles and tell my brain to fire the hams, quads, and glutes. The mental and psychological impact of this feat was enormous. Having progressed from having no ability to move toes or legs to be able to identify a muscle group and mentally trigger it to fire created an enormous sense of hope which I had not experienced since the original injury. I am elated in that I am now able to walk both around the house and outdoors with the use of a rolling walker when previously I was told by an attending physician that I would never walk again.
Currently, I am 10 months post-injury and have progressed to T8AIS.D. Daily I experience new gains, sometimes subtle, sometimes momentous. These forward steps fill me with hope for the future. I have served as a chaplain in a continuing care retirement community and do not expect to return to my full-time position. However, as I retire I do intend to remain productive in my life pursuing hobbies (photography, woodworking, model railroading, gardening, and writing) of long-standing while discovering and cultivating new interests.
At some point, my level of progression will plateau and I will not be as intensely involved at ICSCI. Therefore, I applied for a grant for Health and Wellness for Leaders through the Lutheran Home and Hospital Foundation, Inc. to acquire my own personal MyoCycle. The grant was approved and because of my past positive experience with MyoCycle I look forward to remaining obstacles being overcome, new strengths and abilities developed as I remain expectantly hopeful.