Cause: Car Accident
Age at onset: 16
Sarah Orr is an Independent Spinal Injuries Researcher and Consultant and Human Rights Practitioner, and at 35 leads a full and productive life. Her life so far has included getting a degree from Edinburgh University, her Masters at the University of London, working in Africa for a NGO, working part time as a model, swimming, skiing, backpacking across Australia and New Zealand and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. All of this, after being wheelchair bound from the age of 16 as a result of a car accident while on holiday with friends in the Highlands.
In 1993, the year of Sarah’s accident, she was a bright teenager looking forward to playing for Scotland having been selected for the under-18s hockey team. When the car she was traveling in skidded off the road and crashed into a cliff, her whole world turned upside down. She had broken C7, the seventh vertebrae in her neck, which crushed her spinal cord and, initially, left her completely paralyzed. Sarah, who regained the use of her arms, needed seven months of critical care and rehabilitation before she was able to return home and begin to rebuild her life.During her time in the spinal unit of Southern General Hospital in Glasgow Sarah came into contact with people with similar injuries from Spinal Injuries Scotland (SIS) and credits them with providing her the comfort, support, inspiration and confidence to go forward and live her life to the full. After graduating from university Sarah joined SIS as a communications officer and became one of the supporters who visits the spinal unit, and still supports SIS and its sister organization Spinal Injuries Association (SIA). She has also worked for and is still involved with Back-Up.
Sarah was first introduced to functional electrical stimulation in 2006 when she participated in a FES rowing program in London, but she found rowing to be too “aggressive” on her hips and stopped rowing. She had enjoyed the physical activity and still wanted a good conditioning system, and continued to assess FES systems until she began using RT300 at Neurolink in Wimbledon and found it suited her needs.
It was at Neurolink that Sarah first tried the RT200 and immediately liked the Hybrid FES system. “ Its like a full body conditioning, with my arms and legs involved at the same time, like a cross trainer sitting down. My breathing feels stronger and I have a stronger cough when I need it, which is tremendous. I do not need the stimulation for my arms, but obviously do for my legs, which have now returned to a normal size, which is also great. I get relief from spasms for a period of time after each session, but when they return they are stronger because my muscles are stronger. The improved circulation also helped me recover faster from insects bites on my legs during a recent holiday in Mexico.”
Sarah decided to invest in her own RT200, which arrived a few months ago, so she now has the freedom to use it when and as often as she wants too. She saw the need to use the RT200 for the long term to keep her body healthy so she can continue to leave a full and active lifestyle. Sarah says it is “one of the best investments I have made.”
Sarah’s weekly routine includes 2-3 sessions on her RT200, 4-5 sessions standing with the aid of a standing frame and a personal training session at Neurolink. She also enjoys swimming and uses her arms to propel her wheelchair.
Sarah recommends using the RT300 and RT200 to anyone with paralyzed muscles who can accept the stimulation, and the RT200 specifically to anyone who wants a “full body workout”
Sarah has nothing but praise for the support she gets from Cyclone, “they are always just a phone call away. I met Stuart Dunne early in my post injury period and found him to be an inspirational individual, and I really appreciate Cyclone bring these FES systems to the UK, they are great.”