Diagnosis: SCI T7 – T11
Age at onset: 59
Luther as he likes to be called, has always lived life to the full, believing in the philosophy of “use it or lose it”. Becoming a paraplegic in 2009, courtesy of a collision between his motorcycle and a car did not slow this man down. Despite his extensive injuries, including a spinal cord injury from T7 to T11, Luther, aged 59 at the time, was determined to continue to be as active as he could be.
Luther was introduced to FES and the RT300 early in his rehabilitation and embraced it as a major part of his effort to recover as much of his lost mobility as he could, and his dedication is really paying off.
“About 18 months ago, over 4 years from my accident, I started to recover feeling down my right leg, and doctors who tell you that unless it comes back in the first year it is lost forever, need to think again. The feeling is limited for now to the ability to sense hot and cold, but I have also recovered the ability to sense when I need to pee, which is really great! What’s more I now have normal sensitivity in my right testicle, which means a lot to me. Although I can’t do anything with that leg yet, the fact that sensation started to come back, is really important! ”
His routine includes two hours a day in a standing frame, five days a week at Brooks including 1 to 2 hours on an RT300, and more recently time on RT600 the partial body weight supported FES stepping system. Luther also works out with weights, hand cycling and rowing to maximize his upper body strength. “When I use the FES on my abs I place the electrodes as low as I can to maximize the stimulation and this helps me get it to where it is needed.”
“RT600 makes me feel like I am walking again. I am standing tall, feel like a big guy and it helps the blood circulation, bones, the nerves, muscles and so much more. RT600 helps me to move all my body. It is awesome machine. Look forward to using it whenever I can, and enjoy demonstrating RT600 to new students.”
Luther is quite the expert on understanding how his body can benefit from FES and where to place the electrodes for maximum effect. He is also happy to share that knowledge with other patients and physical therapy students that attend classes at Brooks. His ability to explain how his body is interacting with the FES makes Luther an ideal patient to demonstrate the RT600.
In fact as he admits “I take every opportunity I can get to get on RT600, even volunteering to do the demonstration for the student classes. I love my time walking in that machine and I have been able to support up to 60-70% of my body weight, which is great! It has also improved my bone density.”
When he uses the standing frame at Brooks “they couple me up to the FES so that stand and step using my own muscles. All this, and the work I do on the RT300 and RT600 has meant that my leg muscles are a normal size and while I still get spasms they are tolerable without the need for drugs.”
Another benefit Luther will tell you he gets from the RT600 is “my ankle movement is really helped by the action of the system, so when I transfer I do not drag my feet.”
When Luther visits new SCI patients he tells them “if you get the opportunity, try RT300 FES. It has really helped me to maintain my muscle strength and provide some control over my body. You do not have to let your body waste away, it is really up to you to either ‘use it or lose it’.”