Diagnosis: Stroke

October of 2006, Al King was an upper-level manager of a high end jewelry company. “He was so successful, he managed managers,” his wife Jeanna remembers proudly. But one morning, Al’s success ran out: He collapsed with a massive stroke.

Jeanna considers her husband lucky. “Five neurologists have looked at his MRI and couldn’t believe he’s alive,” she says with amazement. “The neurosurgeon told me to let him die because there was less than a five percent chance he’d make it through surgery. And if he did, they told me he’d be a vegetable. But Al is far from a vegetable!”

Al escaped his stroke and surgery with his life, but his left arm and leg were paralyzed. “It was so bad,” Jeanna remembers, “that Al didn’t even realize those limbs were part of his body. He thought, ‘Oh, someone’s got their arm on me.’ He didn’t recognize that his left side was part of him. He couldn’t walk on his own. The physical therapist used these contraptions that would pull him along.”

Al first tried RT300 at Minnesota’s VA Medical Center, at a suggestion from his PT. Once Al started using the hospital’s cycles, his recovery began to speed up. He did so well, in fact, that the VA purchased a leg cycle and eventually an arm cycle for Al to use at home.

Jeanna is thrilled with her husband’s progress since he started using RT300. “Now he walks over a mile with a cane! Last week he walked five days in a row. Since he started using the cycle, he’s gained so much strength. I love that you can see how you’re improving. It has all these charts you can look at, and we know from the computer that he’s working with more resistance.”

To work his left side, Al uses the stimulation from the cycle on his left quad, hamstring, calf muscle and anterior tibialis, as well as his back and abdominal muscles on both sides of his body. His hard work is paying off.

“Now he can lift his leg up. He couldn’t do anything like that before, he was so weak. Once he started using the cycle, the strength came back. And his brain can recognize that his left side is a part of him. The cycle has strengthened his legs tremendously and helped with his gait pattern. It’s fabulous. You can see it in his body, too—you can feel the muscle and see how much more defined he is. After his stroke, he had no butt! He went from 170 pounds down to 130. He’s back up to 170 now. Even his glutes are stronger. We put some of the electrodes back there, and you can see the muscle now!”

Al agrees with the progress his wife has noted. “My gait pattern has gotten better and better. The asymmetry has improved. I did eleven miles today in an hour, with 38% more of the work on my left side. It’s given me so much more endurance outside. Each time I ride, I try to do more work than the last time. I used to hike my hip up, but I don’t have to do that now, and I can bend my knee easily.”

After a year and a half working Al’s legs, the couple decided to see if the arm cycle is just as effective. It’s too early to tell, but Jeanna and Al think it’s making a difference. “It’s especially helped with the spasticity. He can do bicep curls and tricep extensions.”

Al uses the leg cycle three times a week for an hour, and the arm cycle for 34 minutes four times a week—well, he did until he broke his wrist on the bike trail, which he’s a little grumpy about. “I was out walking when I fell and landed on my wrist. I’m missing the arm cycle. Hopefully this cast will be off soon and I’ll get back to it.”

Jeanna reports more exciting news about Al’s work with the RTI technology. “Oh! This just happened! He can now wiggle his left toes and he’s never been able to since the stroke. His PT thinks it’s because of RT300. It’s so cool!”

Al says the cycle “is the most beneficial form of therapy I’ve had. Without a doubt it pays off. It’s hard, hard work, but it gives you the incentive to push harder. It’s the most important part of my recovery.”