Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Spinal Cord Injuries Increasing

More than 80,000 Canadians are living with spinal cord injuries and that number is expected to climb.

A new report commissioned by the Rick Hansen Institute marks the first time Canadian health officials have had access to solid numbers on spinal cord injuries, which significantly shorten people's lives and cost billions in health-care costs.

The Urban Futures Institute report estimates 85,556 Canadians have spinal cord injuries. That number is expected to reach 121,000 by 2030.

About 48,243 people with spinal cord injuries are fully paralyzed, while 30,324 can use their arms.

People with spinal cord injuries will spend an average 140 days in hospital and die 15 to 30 years earlier than the average person. That's because they're susceptible to medical complications like urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers, pneumonia and severe depression.

Christopher Reeve, the actor known for portraying Superman who became paralyzed after falling from a horse, eventually succumbed to complications due to pressure ulcers.

In 42% of cases, the cause is a traumatic injury like Reeve's — mostly car crashes and falls. Other common causes include ALS and cancer.

The report estimates the economic cost of traumatic spinal cord injuries is $3.6 billion a year, including $1.8 billion in direct medical costs.

“It is essential to demonstrate to the Canadian public the full cost of SCI, to both individuals and communities, and to demonstrate the benefits of programs that will either reduce incidence or improve the lives of those with SCI so that the wider public will give their support, both in spirit and in funding, of these programs,” the report says.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Bridesmaid Breaks Neck of Bride

A few weeks before her wedding day, Rachelle Friedman went out for her bachelorette party with some close friends last May. After a night out on the town, the group went to the home of Rachelle's best friend.

The friend playfully pushed Rachelle into the swimming pool — something they'd done to each other many times before — but this time the bride-to-be landed on her head, paralyzing her from her chest down.

In the ensuing six months, Rachelle has worked to adjust to her new reality. Despite the odds and the tragic turn her life has taken, she is "doing awesome," Friedman says in a Monday interview with the "Today" show. She credits her family and her fiancĂ©, Chris Chapman — who says in the segment that the wedding is still on: "I never once thought about leaving her or this situation." As for the friend, whose name Rachelle wants to keep from the press, Rachelle says, "I'm absolutely best friends with the girl…. Blaming her would be ridiculous."

Watch the "Today" show interview with Rachelle Friedman and Chris Chapman:

In a recent interview with ABC News, Friedman recalled more of the accident. "I instantly went stiff and couldn't move," she said. "I weirdly did not panic. I kind of knew exactly what happened, and I floated up to the surface and said, 'Help,' and then my friends called 911."

ABC reports that the doctors at the hospital "quickly determined that Friedman had suffered a C6 spinal cord injury, leaving her unable to walk or even feel sensation beneath her collarbone." Friedman spent nearly three months in the hospital before beginning rehab. It was then, according to ABC, that she learned just how difficult things were going to be.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jackass Quad Walks After Stem Cell Treatment

Eli the donkey’s recovery from incomplete quadriplegia could be the most important breakthrough in traumatic spinal-cord injuries and for the stem-cell treatment that restored his mobility—a breakthrough that could impact not only equids but all mammals, including humans.

Quadriplegia is considered incomplete if there is lack of mobility yet some sensory or motor function below the affected area.

On May 13, little Eli was inexplicably savaged by his longtime companion Watson, a jack nearly twice his size. During the attack, Watson grabbed Eli by the neck and shook him furiously like a rag doll, which caused severe spinal-cord trauma midway down his cervical spine.

Over the next few days, as Eli’s spinal cord swelled from the trauma, he experienced a rapid progression of weakness in his front end and hindquarters. With Eli’s condition quickly deteriorating, attending veterinarian Steve Goss, D.V.M., recommended that Eli be sent about 30 miles away to Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in Los Olivos, California, for specialized treatment. Alamo Pintado’s staff is credited with overcoming nearly insurmountable odds to save the lives of major stakes winners Thorn Song and most recently Global Hunter (Arg).

Eli arrived at Alamo Pintado on May 18, weak and unstable on all four legs.

“We did a normal treatment of [dimethyl sulfoxide], anti-inflammatories, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but he was deteriorating very fast right in front of us,” said Doug Herthel, D.V.M., Alamo Pintado’s founder and chief of staff. “So on May 22, Dr. Carter Judy did an MRI, and that gave us the definitive diagnosis.”

Eli suffered severe trauma to the spinal cord and its blood supply, and the resultant swelling caused compression of the cord within the spinal canal. The diagnosis was delivered by veterinary radiologist Travis Saveraid, D.V.M.

Herthel also sought the opinion of Mike Kistler, M.D., in Cortez, Colorado, a senior member of the American Society of Neuroradiology with more than 25 years of experience in human spinal trauma. Kistler also is a horseman who considered a career in veterinary medicine before turning to human neuroradiology.

“In a human, a comparable injury would have been sustained by diving into shallow water, and the majority of those injuries would have a poor prognosis, with paralysis,” Kistler said.

Kistler’s interpretation of the MRI results was that Eli’s spinal cord had suffered significant bruising and circulation damage, and that the prognosis was poor. Kistler speculated that it would be unlikely that Eli’s injury would resolve on its own, even with traditional treatment. Moreover, because an equid’s overall health declines when it cannot stand, he felt Eli most likely would not survive his injury or its complications.

Under the supervision of internal medicine specialist Tania Kozikowski, D.V.M., Eli received intense supportive care, treatment with anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling in his spinal cord, and 24-hour-a-day nursing. Yet his condition continued to decline rapidly. On May 24, he lay paralyzed in all four limbs and could not lift his head, urinate, or defecate. He had developed pneumonia and was unable to maintain his body temperature, even with supportive care. Eli was on the verge of death.

Untried theory

Herthel is a pioneer in stem-cell therapy. Over the past 15 years, he has treated more than 5,000 horses with good results. But the bulk of these cases have been tendon and ligament injuries, and more recently laminitis and arthritis. He knew of no research to support the use of stem-cell therapy as a treatment for spinal-cord injuries. But, in theory, it made a lot of sense to him.

“The option to use stem cells was based on what we know adult stem cells can do—promote angiogenesis [formation of new blood vessels] and anti-inflammatory action,” Herthel said. “These injuries to the spinal cord created a lack of circulation and blood supply, which would cause cell death. Eventually, you just end up with a sac of fluid where the injured spinal cord used to be. So our goal was to get rid of the inflammation, similar to what we would use corticosteroids for. But more important were the angiogenesis properties of the mesenchymal stem cells and their ability to protect the cells in the spinal cord and promote the growth of new cells. They also inhibit the formation of scar tissue.”


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Proven Therapy But Insurance Will Not Cover

Families of two paralyzed Bay State teens are calling on insurance companies to step up and fund the life-altering therapy that they say has given their sons new hope, but is painfully out of grasp for so many other families.

“It is a shame that insurance doesn’t cover it,” said Michael Brown, who uses donations from the community to pay the $100-an-hour bill for his son, paralyzed Norwood hockey player Matt Brown, to get therapy at Journey Forward, a Canton rehabilitation center.

Brown is among 37 spinal-cord injury patients who are making strides at the nonprofit center founded in 2008 by Dan Cummings, a quadriplegic who was paralyzed in 2000 and told he’d never walk again.

“What we do at Journey Forward is we think outside the box,” said Cummings, 29, who gets around with a walker and says exercise-based therapy has made that possible. “We get paralyzed clients on spin bikes, on total gyms, on treadmills.”

Cummings operates on the belief that with repetitive exercise the neuropathways that are broken in a spinal-cord injury can be retrained, forging connections again between the brain and the spinal cord.

Brown, 16, the high school hockey player who suffered two fractured vertebrae in a game last January, leaving him a quadriplegic, is wiggling his toes now thanks to his work at Journey Forward, he said.

“I’ve got three of them to really go,” he said of the toes on his right foot.

Insurance companies say they don’t cover Journey Forward because their therapies are unproven and their specialists are not licensed physical therapists, but families of patients say that view is shortsighted.

“To put up a barrier to anybody who has suffered a spinal-cord injury or is in a wheelchair and is looking to get out, to put out a financial barrier because insurance doesn’t see it as traditional is just crazy,” said Michael Brown. “There are many of these clients who don’t want to learn how to live in a wheelchair. They want to learn how to get out of that chair.”


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wheelchair Dude Takes Down Bad Guy

Larry Skopnik pulls a Lenny Skutnik

A wheelchair-bound Vancouver man has been hailed as a local hero after CCTV footage of him helping to thwart a convenience story robbery made its way online, ABC is reporting.

Larry Skopnik, a paraplegic who broke his back a decade ago in an ATV accident, was shopping at a Food Stop franchise in Vancouver when a customer attempted to purchase tobacco with a counterfeit $50 bill. The Vancouver Sun reports that as the shopkeeper refused to take the bill, the man became angry and threatened to rob the store.

As seen in the footage, the man attempts to charge behind the counter, but Skopnik quickly rolls over and puts the man into a headlock before wrestling him to the floor. And while his brave act has generated international headlines, Skopnik shrugs off the attention.

"People have a perception about people in wheelchairs as being unable, when we're 99 percent able," Skopnik is quoted by AOL as saying. "There are only four things I can't do in life, and that's walk, run, jump and kick. Everything else, I'm totally able to do, and helping other people is one of them."


Monday, October 18, 2010

A Freak Accident?

Rutgers tackle Eric LeGrand suffers spinal cord injury, has no movement below neck

Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand has no movement below the neck after suffering a spinal-cord injury during the Scarlet Knights' overtime victory over Army on Saturday at New Meadowlands Stadium.

LeGrand, who was hurt on a kickoff, was injured at the C3-C4 level of his spine and underwent surgery to stabilize the area. He is hospitalized in the intensive-care unit of Hackensack University Medical Center and is expected to remain there for a while, according to a statement released by the school's athletic department.

"We want to say thank you to everyone for all of your prayers, kind words, and well wishes," LeGrand's family said in a statement. "We appreciate every single thought. Eric is in good spirits and we are praying for a full recovery."

Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand carted off on backboard with neck injury

Rutgers players react to Eric Legrand's spinal injury

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Human SCI Stem Cell Trials Set To Begin

U.S. doctors have begun treating the first patient to receive human embryonic stem cells, but details of the landmark clinical trial are being kept confidential, Geron Corp said on Monday.

Geron has the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration license to use the controversial cells to treat people, in this case patients with new spinal cord injuries. It is the first publicly known use of human embryonic stem cells in people.

"The patient was enrolled at Shepherd Center, a 132-bed spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation hospital and clinical research center in Atlanta, Georgia," Geron said in a statement.

"Shepherd Center is one of seven potential sites in the United States that may enroll patients in the clinical trial."

Northwestern University in Chicago is also ready to enroll patients.

Geron's stem cells come from human embryos left over from fertility treatments. They have been manipulated so that they have become precursors to certain types of nerve cells.

The hope is that they will travel to the site of a recent spinal cord injury and release compounds that will help the damaged nerves in the cord regenerate.

The Phase I trial will not be aiming to cure patients but to establish that the cells are safe to use. Under the guidelines of the trial, the patients must have very recent injuries.

Geron said the Shepherd Center would keep details of the patient confidential.

"When we started working with human embryonic stem cells in 1999, many predicted that it would be a number of decades before a cell therapy would be approved for human clinical trials," Geron President and CEO Dr. Thomas Okarma said in a statement.

Geron is not subject to limitations on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, as it has done all its work with its own funding.

The government is embroiled in a legal battle over the cells. Just weeks after he took office in 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that eased limitations on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dad/Coach Not Allowed to Coach from Wheelchair

It didn’t take high-dollar lawyers — though they offered — to resolve a dispute between a youth football club and a coach with a disability.

Ultimately it boiled down to an apology and an agreement forged during a face-to-face meeting on Friday.

The Football and Cheerleading Club of Johnson County apologized to assistant coach Merrill Staton, who was told that his motorized wheelchair posed a safety hazard for players. The club agreed to drop a rule that required the coach to have an adult work alongside him at all times during games.

“The remainder of the coaching staff will increase their already heightened awareness of players on the field that may need additional protection due to a play extending out of bounds and possibly coming in contact with Mr. Staton’s wheelchair,” the club said in a statement.

Club leaders said that the heightened awareness will address their safety concerns.

“The club has apologized to Mr. Staton and recognizes that poor communications from members of the club with him were the source of a misunderstanding of the issues,” the club said.

Staton learned about the rule on Sunday just as his second-grade son was set to hit the field. He had planned to appeal the decision.

As word of the story traveled, parents, members of the disability community and others offered to join him at his appeal. The story gained national attention and caused disability advocates to take note.

“I have had at least 20 attorneys offer me pro bono services,” Staton said.

But the Overland Park man has stressed from the beginning that he didn’t want a monetary windfall. Staton, who has a progressive neurological disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, simply wanted the chance to coach his boys, ages 7 and 5, while he’s healthy enough to do it.

On Friday, Staton said he’s satisfied with the agreement and can’t wait for the weekend games.

“It’s going to be a big deal,” he said. “I left last week because of the whole ordeal. We lost the game, and from my understanding it was a pretty somber game.”


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Frogs and Salt to Cure Spinal Cord Injury

People with severed limbs, spinal cord injuries and other traumatic wounds may someday be able to regrow lost nerves and tissue with the help of sodium, a new study suggests.

By using drugs to prompt a flood of sodium ions into injured nerve cells, biologists from Tufts University were able to regenerate severed tadpole tails — complex appendages containing spinal cord, muscle and other tissue. The study was published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience.

"We certainly feel this will be relevant for human medicine," said lead researcher Michael Levin, the director of the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts. "The name of the game is to control the ionic content of the wound, which is able to kick-start the whole process of regeneration. You can initiate the whole cascade of repair."

Like humans, who can regrow fingertips only as children, tadpoles lose the ability to regenerate their tails with age, the researchers said. In this study, so-called refractory tadpoles, which normally cannot regrow their tails, began growing a duplicate after an hour-long infusion of a specific combination of drugs.

The frog tail is a good model for human regeneration, Levin said, because it repairs injury in the same way, with each tissue making more of itself. Tail regeneration takes about seven days for both young and sodium-treated refractory tadpoles, he said.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Poor Poor Lady - Next Time Don't Park in the Handicapped Spot

Lost Lexus

Martena Clinton drove to the Congressional Black Caucus dinner at the Washington Convention Center on Saturday with high expectations. A friend had arranged a ticket, and Clinton wore a special diamond pendant over her black dress. She parked in a handicapped spot close to the intersection of 9th Street and Mount Vernon Place and glanced in the mirror. She decided the diamond pendant didn't go with her dress, took it off and put it in a console.

She displayed a handicapped tag prominently, locked her car and checked with a police officer who happened to be parked right behind her. He assured her the spot was legal. Clinton put her credit cards, cash and makeup in a pocketbook and left it in the trunk, carrying a small purse into the dinner. It was 5:30 p.m.

When she emerged from the dinner at 11:30 p.m., her black 1994 Lexus was gone.

The police officer who responded to Clinton's distressed call told her that the Secret Service had done what many Washingtonians have grown begrudgingly used to:

They ordered numerous cars removed from the area as a security precaution because President Obama was speaking at the dinner.

It should have been simple for Clinton to find her car - police told her that relocated vehicles are typically towed to different spots within a few blocks - but this time police had not kept track of where they had moved it. The Lexus was lost.

District police searched for the car for two hours Saturday night, circling the neighborhood again and again. Clinton, who is a travel consultant, and Gardine Tiggle, the friend who invited her to the dinner, waited at the spot immediately outside the convention center where Clinton had parked the Lexus. Clinton has the handicapped tag because her husband suffered a stroke.

By 1:30 a.m., police had searched a one-mile radius of the convention center and found not a trace of the car.

Embarrassed about the missing vehicle, an officer called area hotels and helped Clinton find a room for the night. On Sunday morning, police resumed the search. Still nothing.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rugby Spinal Cord Injuries Decline in Scotland

A rise in the spinal injury incidence rate in school rugby in Scotland appears to have been stopped after new rules were brought in.

The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) was concerned that the number of schoolboys suffering spinal injuries was on the rise after seven incidents in the space of three years.

Since the rule changes were brought in last year, there have been no serious spinal injuries among schoolboy players.

The rules prevent boys aged under 16 years from playing in under-17 and under-18-level matches.

In addition, all coaches, teachers and referees now have to undergo a safety training course.

The outcomes of the rule changes are to be presented at the British Orthopaedic Association Congress in Glasgow later this week.

Scotland international rugby star Thom Evans was forced to retire from the game recently after her sustained a severe spinal injury in a collision with Wales player Lee Byrne.


New Trend of Pole Dancing Leading to Spinal Cord Injury

If you thought the only danger in pole dancing was std you were wrong.

A MOTHER-OF-TWO from York has been left paralysed after a freak accident during a pole-dancing exercise class.

Debbie Plowman, 32, of Haxby, suffered devastating injuries when she fell, breaking her neck and severely damaging her spinal cord.

After initial neck and head immobilisation at York Hospital, she was transferred to Hull Royal Infirmary for specialist care and surgery on her spine and head.

She was then transferred by air ambulance to the spinal injury unit at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, where she remains on a ventilator to enable her to breathe. At the moment, she is struggling to communicate and is doing so through a computer that tracks her eye movements.

Debbie is hoping to move closer to home next month through a transfer to the Lascelles neurological rehabilitations unit in Harrogate, where she is likely to remain for another six months.

Now her plight has inspired a massive fund-raising drive by relatives and friends, including a Three Peaks walk, a sports dinner at York Racecourse this autumn and a sponsored ascent of Kilimanjaro next autumn. Money raised will go to a Trust fund being set up to help Debbie, and also for Spinal Research UK.

Debbie, who worked at the Tesco store at Clifton Moor and has two young children, Jack, five, and Ruby, two, had been doing pole-dancing exercise classes for two years before the accident happened.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good News: Brain Controlled Wheelchair

Bad: You must be bald and wear a silly white hat

The smart researchers over at the EPFL in Switzerland have come up with a cool brain-controlled wheelchair. This wheelchair will rely on EEG readings to detect specific brain patterns and when combined with artificial intelligence will allow for shared control of the wheelchair. The artificial intelligence will get input from a pair of cameras and some image processing software which is capable of differentiating between different types of objects, helping the wheelchair avoid obstacles.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spinal Cord for Spinal Cord?

A judge in Saudi Arabia is considering paralyzing a criminal as a punishment. More than two years ago Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi was attacked and paralyzed. He eventually lost his foot as a result of his injuries.

Paralyzing Considered Equivalent Punishment Under Islamic Law

The victim has implored the judge named Saoud bi Suleiman al-Youssef, to invoke an equivalent punishment, which is available under Islamic law according to Yahoo News. The judge began his research into the issue of paralyzing the criminal by calling area hospitals to find out if such an injury as a punishment is possible. At least one hospital declined, but another told the judge that it could be done, but that it must be at a different hospital.

Judges in Saudi Arabia often invoke an eye for an eye punishment. However, King Abdullah has tried to put a stop this type of extreme punishment. Right now Saudi Arabia is actually trying to modernize the country, but these types of old fashioned punishments seem out of sync with the modern world.

An Eye for an Eye?

One of the reasons the victim and his family are asking for the ancient type of punishment is because the attacker, who has not been identified, was sentenced to 14 months in prison, but he was released after seven months. Now, the attacker is a school teacher. Obviously this punishment seems too short. However, the punishment that has been requested is unbelievably extreme. The family of the victim is so committed to the attacker getting an eye for an eye type punishment, that they are willing to send the man abroad to receive the punishment.

If this type of punishment actually happens, it is against international conventions and standards for human rights. It is unbelievable. Of course the victim deserves justice, but this extreme request is way too far. Other extreme punishments have been carried out such as teeth pulled out for a criminal who had smashed out somebody else’s teeth. Also, a person was sentenced to blindness after causing another person to become blind. This is unbelievable -- seriously and completely unbelievable.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Airline Hit with $500,000 Fine for Egregious Wheelchair User Treatment

The U.S. Department of Transportation fined AirTran Airways $500,000 for violating laws on handling passengers who must use wheelchairs.

In the enforcement action announced Monday, the DOT found that:

* A review of AirTran's records indicated that it had "a significant number of apparent violations" of the Air Carrier Access Act.

* "A small number of these complaints appear to involve egregious violations..."

* "...In numerous instances, it did not provide a written response to the complainant," as required by law.

* AirTran failed "to adequately categorize and account for all the disability-related issues that were raised in the complaints."

In response, AirTran stated:

"We are dedicated to treating special needs passengers with the highest level of dignity and respect. Our goal is to establish AirTran Airways as the industry leader in addressing the needs of disabled passengers. We take this leadership role seriously and look forward to continually improving our service to this important group of customers"

DOT said AirTran can reduce its fine up to $200,000 by spending a similar amount to improve its system.

That includes up to $60,000 "to establish a council to help the carrier comply with federal disability rules and hire a manager for disability accommodations."

The rest, up to $140,000, "may be used to develop and employ an automated wheelchair tracking system at AirTran's major hub airports within one year that will generate real-time reports of the carrier's wheelchair assistance performance."

Below, we have the rest of AirTran's statement.

Our first priority has always been the safety and comfort of all of our customers. During the past three years, more than 920,000 passengers with disabilities have enjoyed our high-quality, low-cost service. During that time, less than one half of one percent of these customers has reported any type of issue to either the Department of Transportation or the airline.

The overwhelming majority of issues reported by disabled passengers is in relation to the quick availability of wheelchairs. We are working diligently to correct this by implementing a real-time wheelchair tracking system at our biggest operations (ATL, BWI, MCO, MKE) to ensure timely availability of wheelchairs and continuous monitoring of our performance.

While the number of special needs passengers not fully satisfied with our service is less than one half of one percent of all disabled passengers that have flown with us over the past three years, we constantly strive to improve our service and are dedicated to making a good flying experience even better for all of our customers.

Proactive steps we are taking to improve the quality of our customer service as it relates to special needs passengers:

• We are implementing several initiatives to continue to enhance our ability to serve special needs passengers with the highest level of dignity and care. They include:

- Establishing a cross-divisional Disability Compliance Council. This group, comprised of AirTran senior officers, will oversee, manage and continually improve all aspects of our disability compliance programs and act as an advocate for special needs customers at the highest level of the company.

- Creating a new, dedicated position (Manager of Disability Accommodations), to proactively address the needs of disabled passengers and focus exclusively on continually improving our ability to serve this important group of customers.

- Developing a special needs-specific digital curriculum to ensure that all frontline Crew Members are familiar with proper handling requirements and techniques in assisting special needs passengers.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stem Cell Scientists Push Forward for Eminent First Human Tests

Even as supporters of human embryonic stem cell research are reeling from last week's sudden cutoff of federal funding, another portentous landmark is quietly approaching: the world's first attempt to carefully test the cells in people.

Scientists are poised to inject cells created from embryonic stem cells into some patients with a progressive form of blindness and others with devastating spinal cord injuries. That's a welcome step for researchers eager to move from the laboratory to the clinic and for patients hoping for cures. But beyond being loathsome to those with moral objections to any research using cells from human embryos, the tests are worrying many proponents: Some argue that the experiments are premature, others question whether they are ethical, and many fear that the trials risk disaster for the field if anything goes awry.

"We desperately need to know how these cells are going to perform in the human setting," said John Gearhart, a stem cell pioneer at the University of Pennsylvania. "But are we transplanting cells that are going to cause tumors? Will they will stay where you put them and do what you want them to do?"

Supporters of these privately funded, government-sanctioned tests, including patients' advocates, bioethicists and officials at the companies sponsoring them, are confident that research has been exhaustively vetted. The Food and Drug Administration has demanded extensive experiments in the laboratory and on animals to provide evidence that the cells are safe enough to test in people and hold great promise.

"We're very optimistic," said Thomas B. Okarma, president and chief executive of Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif., which after years of delay received a green light in July from the FDA to study patients partially paralyzed by spinal cord injuries. "If we're right, we'll revolutionize the treatment of many chronic diseases."


Monday, August 23, 2010

Judge Blocks Federal Stem Cell Research

A federal judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the federal government from funding medical research involving human embryonic stem cells, a blow to the Obama administration's bid to expand stem-cell research efforts.

U.S. Chief District Court Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington ruled that government funding for embryonic stem-cell research was barred by a law that prohibits the use of federal money for research in which an embryo is destroyed.

Lamberth said Congress clearly intended to bar federal funding of research involving embryo destruction, and added, "This Court is bound to apply the law as it is written."

The judge rejected the Obama administration's argument that embryonic stem-cell research itself did not result in the destruction of embryos.

In March 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order lifting barriers to stem-cell research that had been established under President George W. Bush. In July 2009, the National Institutes of Health issued specific guidelines on use of stem cells.

The guidelines allowed funding for research using human embryonic stem cells that were derived from human embryos created by in vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes and were no longer needed.

Bush, in 2001, had restricted federal funding only to research involving the limited number of embryonic stem-cell lines that were already in existence.

Many social conservatives oppose the research. A group of doctors and Christian organizations filed a lawsuit last year challenging the NIH guidelines.

Steven Aden, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund and a lawyer for the challengers, said the ruling "is in line with Congress's intention that taxpayer funds should not be used to destroy human life."

The White House and NIH referred requests for comment to the Justice Department. A Justice spokeswoman said the agency was reviewing the ruling.

Sean Tipton, spokesman for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said the judge's injunction "blocks important research on how to unlock the enormous potential of human embryonic stem cells."

"It will be incredibly disruptive and once again drive the best scientific minds into work less likely to yield treatments for conditions from diabetes to spinal cord injury," Tipton said.

Stem cells are the building blocks of the body's tissues and organs. Those derived from embryos can develop into any type of tissue and are considered especially promising for research into diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Finally a Cure, Again

Human neural stem cells 'can restore mobility in chronic spinal cord injury cases'

In a first of its kind study, researchers have shown the reversal of long-term hind-limb paralysis.

The UC Irvine study demonstrated that human neural stem cells can restore mobility in cases of chronic spinal cord injury, suggesting the prospect of treating a much broader population of patients.

Previous breakthrough stem cell studies have focused on the acute, or early, phase of spinal cord injury, a period of up to a few weeks after the initial trauma when drug treatments can lead to some functional recovery.

The study, led by Aileen Anderson and Brian Cummings of the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, is significant because the therapy can restore mobility during the later chronic phase, the period after spinal cord injury in which inflammation has stabilized and recovery has reached a plateau.

There are no drug treatments to help restore function in such cases.

For the study, the researchers transplanted human neural stem cells into mice 30 days after a spinal cord injury caused hind-limb paralysis.

The cells then differentiated into neural tissue cells, such as oligodendrocytes and early neurons, and migrated to spinal cord injury sites.

Three months after initial treatment, the mice demonstrated significant and persistent recovery of walking ability in two separate tests of motor function when compared to control groups.

"Human neural stem cells are a novel therapeutic approach that holds much promise for spinal cord injury. This study builds on the extensive work we previously published in the acute phase of injury and offers additional hope to those who are paralyzed or have impaired motor function," said Anderson.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spinal Cord Stem Cell Growth Long After Injury

Immature human nerve cells grew in the spines of injured mice and helped them walk a little better, researchers said on Wednesday in a study they said shows it may be possible to treat patients weeks or months after their accidents.

The study, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, suggests there is a longer period of opportunity than previously thought to treat spinal cord injuries.

It is very difficult to heal damaged spinal cords and most studies have shown that any treatment attempt must take place within days after the injury to do any good.

But a team using StemCells Inc's nerve stem cells taken from aborted fetuses found that even a month after injury, the cells took up residence in the spine, proliferated and helped mice walk better.

The California-based company hopes to begin human tests of the cells in 2011.

The cells are a form of stem cell, the master cells of the body. These are technically adult stem cells, taken from the partly developed brains of fetuses and tested for qualities showing they are destined to form particular types of nerve cells.

Dr. Aileen Anderson of the University of California, Irvine and colleagues tested 37 mice, damaging their spinal cords surgically and then transfusing either the StemCells product, ordinary human skin cells or a placebo.

The cells migrated through the spine, grew and began to function, the researchers said. When tested for coordination, 64 percent of the stem-cell-treated mice walked better, compared to 44 percent of mice treated with ordinary cells and 20 percent of placebo-treated mice.

The report is available here


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wheelchair Stalker

Introducing the wheelchair that can stalk

The Human-Robot Interaction Center at Japan's Saitama University is developing a wheelchair whose camera and laser sensor enable it to track--and follow--the person next to it.

The wheelchair, which is considered standard in all other respects, uses a distance sensor to determine which way the followed person's shoulders are facing so that it can change direction as the leader does.

"[Care] facilities sometimes don't have enough staff, so a single helper has to push two wheelchairs," a Saitama spokesperson says in a news report. "With wheelchairs like this, which can follow automatically, you can have two, three, or four moving together. So we aim to use this type of wheelchair in practical applications."

Of course there's always the potential for impractical and uproarious applications, such as group wheelchair line dancing alongside a charitable leader. One never knows what lies in Paula Abdul's future.


Monday, August 9, 2010

If you were a mouse you'd be walking now

Mice movement neurons regenerated after spinal cord injury

Researchers have been searching for decades for a way to mend damage to the spinal cord, an injury that can lead to life-long paralysis. Even the smallest of breaks in these crucial central nerve fibers can result in the loss of leg, arm and other bodily functions. And attempts to prompt healing, through stem cells or growth factors, have yet to achieve widespread success.

Previous research had been stepping closer to encouraging neuronal growth—which usually stops after physical maturation. And a 2008 study co-authored by Zhigang He, a neurologist at Children's Hospital Boston, announced success in shutting down a gene that stops neuron cell growth, thus enticing damaged nerves to start growing again. Through that process, the team was able to reestablish a severed optical nerve connection in mice.

A new study, co-authored in part by He and other members of the 2008 team, demonstrates nerves necessary for voluntary movement could be regenerated in mice with spinal cord damage after removing a common enzyme that regulates the neuronal cell growth.* The results were published online August 8 in Nature Neuroscience (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group).

The removed enzyme PTEN, a phosphatase and tensin homolog, helps to dictate activity in the mTOR pathway, which plays a role in cell growth. During maturation, PTEN is activated, halting cell regeneration, but after removing it from a group of experimental mice with spinal cord injury, the neurons grew as they did in the development phase.

The researchers propose that "neuronal growth competence is dependent on the capability of new protein synthesis, which provides building blocks for axonal regrowth." Restarting the mTOR pathway, what the authors term a "'rejuvenation' strategy," could "be widely applicable for promoting successful regeneration following many types of injuries or traumas in the adult [central nervous system]."

Reestablishing this communication across those broken synapses could be life-changing for the millions of people who live with spinal cord injury across the world—especially given that the majority of cases occur in middle age, when these neuron cell growth pathways are already shut down. "Paralysis and loss of function from spinal cord injury has been considered untreatable," Oswald Steward, a professor of anatomy and neurobiology at University of California, Irvine and co-author of the new paper, said in a prepared statement. "Our discovery points the way toward a potential therapy to induce regeneration of nerve connections following spinal cord injury in people."


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Iraqi War Veteran Will Be First In Line

Paralyzed Iraqi War Veteran Will Be First to Receive Adult Stem Cells to Treat Spinal Cord Injuries at TCA Cellular Therapy

TCA Cellular Therapy, LLC has enrolled its first patient to participate in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first adult stem cell clinical trial to treat spinal cord injuries. Enrollee and Marine Veteran, Matt Cole was paralyzed from the chest down in a 2005 insurgent attack in Iraq.

“At minimum, our team expects this therapy will provide some improvement to the patient’s motory and sensory functions with no side effects.”

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (February 2010), it is estimated that up to 311,000 people in the U.S. are living with a Spinal Cord Injury with the average health care and living expenses cost for the first year following the injury as much as $830,000 per patient.

TCA Cellular’s neurological team is led by stem cell experts Jose J. Minguell, PhD, Carolina Allers, PhD, and Gabriel Lasala, MD, neurosurgeon Gustavo Gutnisky, MD, and neurologist Srinivas Ganji, MD. The team is scheduled to treat ten patients in Phase I.

“Many spinal cord injury patients have no effective treatment available at this time,” stated Dr. Gutnisky. “I’m very encouraged by the results of the pre-clinical trials and anticipate this may become a significant therapy for these patients in the near future.”

Utilizing TCA Cellular’s proprietary therapy, a couple of thousand adult stem cells have been extracted from the patient’s own bone marrow, Mesenchymal Stem Cells have been separated, purified, multiplied to millions and will be infused into Cole’s spinal cord later this month.

“In theory we expect the cells to repair damaged neurons,” explained TCA Cellular president, Dr. Lasala. “At minimum, our team expects this therapy will provide some improvement to the patient’s motory and sensory functions with no side effects.”

About TCA Cellular Therapy

Under the scientific guidance of cellular biologist, Jose J. Minguell, Ph.D., TCA Cellular Therapy, LLC is a biotherapeutic adult stem cell research and development company. The company has been recognized by the FDA as one of the top 10 U.S. companies researching stem cell therapies. Founded in 2006, the privately-held company has multiple ongoing FDA clinical trials utilizing patient’s own cells. The company is located in Covington, Louisiana.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Danny Magoo Chandler Dies at Age 50 - Only 25 Years Later Almost Gets a Van

Danny “Magoo” Chandler died May 4th as a result of illnesses related to paralysis. The Hall of Fame rider was 50 years old.

The Sacramento, California native was known for his wild style and wide-open charge. Magoo was a fan favorite from the time he turned professional in 1976. His first real success came with a top-10 finish in the 1981 125cc Motocross Nationals.

He signed with factory Honda in 1982 and began the biggest year of his career. Perhaps the most memorable victory was claiming the U.S. 500cc Motocross Grand Prix. Besting the Europeans at Carlsbad Raceway that day notched his name in the history books. He furthered his international fame by winning every 250cc moto at the ’82 Trophies des Nations in Germany, and every 500cc moto at the Motocross des Nations in Switzerland – the only rider ever to achieve the feat. He also won the ABC Wide World of Sports Superbikers race, which was essentially the first event of what we now call Supermoto.

Magoo went on to finish third in the AMA 500cc series in ’83 but suffered through ’84 with injuries. He switched to the World Motocross Championship in 1985, ultimately settling with an Italian Kawasaki team, but a crash at the Paris Supercross in December of 1985 left him paralyzed.

Following the accident, Chandler embarked on a mission to help spread motorcycle safety, particularly to young riders. Other endeavors included race promotion for mountain bikes and cooperation with the DARE drug awareness program.

The industry has been hard at work to provide Danny with a specially equipped vehicle to make it easier for him to travel and conduct his seminars. The Danny Magoo Chandler Van Fund was completed and the project finalized on May 4, the same day as his death.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stem Cell Treatment on Spinal Cord Injured to begin on humans

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the all-clear to a clinical trial of embryonic stem cells as a treatment for spinal-cord injury.

It is potentially the first time embryonic stem cells will be tested on humans.

The developer of the treatment, Geron Corporation, said the FDA had removed a clinical hold on its GRNOPC1 therapy.

It hopes to start testing GRNOPC1 on humans by year's end, enrolling eight to 10 patients across the US.

The trial will take about two years, with each patient being studied for one year.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quadriplegic John Callahan: Irreverent, Hilarious, Touching, and Sometimes Tasteless, Dies

Fearless John Callahan pushed boundaries of taste and humor with his art Gallery

On Saturday, John Callahan died at 59. He was among the most brilliant and original cartoonists who ever lived. If you never heard of him, it is because he assured his semi-obscurity by venturing into some of the most unnerving, taboo areas imaginable, in a fearless pursuit of humor.

A blind man is plummeting off a cliff. In front of him, on a leash, also falling, is a small animal. The blind man is thinking, "Why did I buy a seeing-eye lemming?"

Callahan was a quadriplegic; he drew with two spastic hands, held together as if in prayer, each giving the other just enough support to fashion a semi-straight line, a line just squirrelly enough to give the drawing a slightly lunatic feel. As it happens, "slightly lunatic" was perfect.

A man is selling puppies on the street. The grim reaper has walked up to him, accompanied by her three little grim reaper children. They are excitedly bouncing around, saying, "Mommy! Mommy! Can we kill the puppies?"

In the late 1980s, when we were editors of the Sunday magazine of the Miami Herald, Tom Shroder and I first saw a Callahan cartoon in a small weekly newspaper in Oregon -- the only sort of paper at the time that would run his stuff. This was it:

Two horseflies are sitting on a couch. The male fly is putting the moves on the female fly. On the floor, in front of them, are some little round objects. The female fly is saying: "Darling! Not in front of the maggots!"

A few weeks later, Tom and I began running Callahan's work every week in our magazine, Tropic. I believe we gave Callahan his first big break in the mainstream media, and it began a long collaboration and friendship.

Headless bodies are stumbling out of a restaurant, blood spurting from the necks. The restaurant's name is "The Low Ceiling-Fan Cafe."

I think Callahan, who never achieved any significant degree of commercial success, was the first and best to apply such darkness to the comics; this sort of edge is now almost mainstream. If you watch "Family Guy" or "South Park" or "American Dad," you will see that they are Callahan's children.


Callahan's Web Page

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stingley's "Assassin" Dies

Jack Tatum, Whose Tackle Paralyzed Player, Dies at 61

Jack Tatum, the former Oakland Raiders player who earned the nickname the Assassin for his brutal hits, none of them more devastating than a blow that left New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley paralyzed in 1978, died Tuesday in Oakland, Calif. He was 61.
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Tatum, known as the Assassin, burnished the Raiders’ outlaw image with hits like this one on Minnesota’s Sammy White.

The Raiders announced his death on their Web site. The cause was a heart attack, Tatum’s friend and former Ohio State teammate John Hicks told The Associated Press. Tatum had suffered from diabetes in recent years, leading to the amputation of a leg.

Tatum played 10 seasons in the National Football League and won a Super Bowl ring in 1977 with the Raiders, whose outlaw image was enhanced by Tatum’s ferocious style of play.

Tatum, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was one of the most feared hitters in football, and he came to be a symbol of a violent game. “I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault,” he wrote in a 1980 book, “They Call Me Assassin.”

His collision with Stingley, one of the most indelible in N.F.L. history, defined Tatum’s reputation. It came on Aug. 12, 1978, in a preseason game against the Patriots at Oakland Coliseum. Stingley was running a crossing pattern, and the force of the hit fractured two vertebrae in Stingley’s neck and severely damaged his spinal cord, leaving him a quadriplegic.

No penalty flags were thrown and Tatum was not disciplined — but Stingley and Tatum never reconciled. Tatum did not apologize for the hit, earning him considerable national scorn.

“It was tough on him, too,” Hicks told The A.P. “He wasn’t the same person after that. For years he was almost a recluse.”

In his 1980 book, Tatum wrote: “When the reality of Stingley’s injury hit me with its full impact, I was shattered. To think that my tackle broke another man’s neck and killed his future.”


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Birthday ADA!

A generation has passed since Rene David Luna, 54, chained his wheelchair in front of a CTA bus and swung a sledgehammer to make a point about the city's sidewalks.

Since then, he said, the world has changed in ways that younger people cannot imagine.

"People assume the buses all arrived with lifts on them," Luna said. "They don't know we had to fight for them."

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Two decades ago, activists combined their struggle to navigate ordinary obstacles with the extraordinary effort of convincing the country that the rights of the disabled were as fundamental as the rights of other minorities.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of that effort's culmination in the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990.

The law established broad civil rights for people with disabilities and promoted their full participation in and access to services and activities, paving the way for the next generation of disabled Americans to expect access as a basic right.

Joe Russo, a 45-year-old attorney who is deputy commissioner of compliance in Mayor Richard Daley's Office for People With Disabilities, said it is a mark of the law's achievement.

"I'm glad," he said. "I want them to take it for granted."

Things were different when Russo, who has used a wheelchair most of his life as a result of a degenerative disease, was attending law school at New York University in the late 1980s. The campus, he said, had virtually no accommodations, forcing him to use backdoor delivery entrances.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Well at Least She Had Something to Eat While She Waited for Help

Wheelchair Lady Saved by Blackberries

A Roseburg woman is lucky she was found Thursday afternoon after a bizarre accident.

The woman, who lives in the Riverview Terrace Retirement Center at the corner of Stewart Parkway and Harvard was attempting to cross the bridge over the South Umpqua River towards Stewart Park.

Her motorized wheelchair slipped off the right side of the pedestrian walkway just before entering the bridge.

Firefighters say she and the wheelchair rolled down the embankment into a large grow of blackberries.

Thankfully, a passing motorist saw the chair and stopped to see what was going on. They say the woman was so far into the vines that they couldn't see her, but they heard her calling out for help.

Firefighters had to cut away the berry vines to get to her, and they were able to carry the woman up to the sidewalk.

She was transported to Mercy Medical Center for treatment, and northbound traffic was shut down for about a half hour while the woman was rescued from the berry patch.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Will Not Win Any Races Here But Up You Go

Bionic legs allow paralyzed man to walk again

When Hayden Allen suffered a spinal cord injury in a motorbike accident five years ago, doctors told him he’d never walk again.

But today a revolutionary product developed by a New Zealand biotech company has enabled him to do just that.

Mr Allen has been one of the first people in the world to use Rex, the Robotic Exoskeleton - a pair of robotic legs that supports and assists a person who usually uses a wheelchair.

It lets them stand, walk and go up and down steps and slopes.

‘I’ll never forget what it was like to see my feet walking under me the first time I used Rex,' said Mr Allen.

‘People say to me, "Look up when you’re walking" but I just can’t stop staring down at my feet moving.’

Rex users move from their chair into Rex, strap themselves in and control their movements using a joystick and control pad.

The equipment weighs 38kg (84lb) and is individually made for each user.

It is powered by a lightweight, long-life rechargeable battery.

Mr Allen, a mechanic, also spoke of how liberated he felt around his workshop as he now has far more access to machinery - and he can finally talk to people at eye level again.

Dr Richard Roxburgh, Auckland neurologist and medical adviser to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, said: ‘For many of my patients, Rex represents the first time they’ve been able to stand up and walk for years.

Read more:


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dallas Cowboys Facility Collapse: Rich Behm Left Paralyzed - Update

Dallas Cowboys staff member Rich Behm was seriously injured and left paralyzed from the waist down when the team's practice facility collapsed in May. Here are Babe Laufenberg's thoughts about the interview, the only one Behm has given since he was injured.

As with any interview, you always want to get the story right and to do justice to the subject at hand. I have always believed in fairness; always tried very hard to make sure that the subject was the story, not me doing the interview.

This story was a bit unique for me, however. I have known Rich Behm for many years, as well as his brother, Chris. Chris works in the Cowboys Television Department, and I have done many shows with Chris, both radio and television. I received the call from Chris as he was driving to the hospital the night of the accident. He was at a wedding a couple of hours away, knowing that in all likelihood his brother would never walk again. I could sense the helplessness in his voice, the anxiety, and the feeling that if he had been at the facility, maybe, just maybe, there would have been something he could have done. No matter how much reality would tell you otherwise, I think you could understand his thought process.

I think we all try to imagine how we would handle certain situations that occur in other people's lives, both tragic and triumphant. The truth is, we don't really know until we are actually confronted with the situation.

I have spoken to Rich many times since the accident, but always on the relatively superficial level, thinking -- however naively -- that, "Hey, maybe if I don't mention it, he won't know he is paralyzed."


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bear Attacks, Carries Off, and Eats Wheelchair User

Anchorage Police are asking residents to take extra precautions around bears after a bizarre incident Thursday morning almost a triggered a bear attack in East Anchorage.

Officers say they responded to the 200 block of Yellow Leaf Circle just after 10 a.m. when neighbors called to report a woman was chasing a bear down an alley.

When they arrived, they learned that a black bear had jumped into Karan Nixon's fenced yard on the nearby Orange Leaf Circle, snatching her pet rabbit "George" with its teeth.

After hearing the rabbit screaming, the Nixon, who was wearing stockings, then chased the bear through several yards and down an alley.

However, the bear kept running, jumped over a fence and took off with George.

Neighbors say George was well known in the neighborhood because his back two legs were paralyzed, so his previous owner built him a two-wheeled cart to get around in. In addition, George was in training to become a therapy pet.

Neighbors also told police they were concerned for children and other pets in the Muldoon area because that particular bear had been causing problems recently in the neighborhood, getting into trash and people's yards.

Although Nixon was not hurt in this situation, Police say they'd like to remind all Anchorage residents to keep a close eye on their pets while bears are active, especially when they are near food.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Move the Stroller So the Disabled Chick Doesn't Kill Herself

Transit priority seating pits baby strollers against wheelchairs

Lyle Attfield couldn’t just sit by and watch. As he tells it, he was sitting on a bus when the driver denied service to a man in a wheelchair waiting at a stop.

The priority seating was full, taken up by parents with strollers.

“(The bus driver) didn’t want to ask the strollers to move and technically, that’s in their mandate,” said Attfield, who has been lobbying B.C. Transit to enforce its rules for years. “If you keep pushing the disabled out, they stay inside and the suicide rate goes up. It all comes down to human rights.”

On this day, however, Attfield took matters into his own hands.

After arguing with the driver, he got off the bus and sat down on the front bumper in protest. Eventually a police officer ended the standoff and gave Attfield a $115 ticket for disrupting bus travel.

On June 21, a provincial traffic court judge upheld the ticket, but Attfield plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“This has got to stop,” said Attfield, who has a disability but does not use a wheelchair.

B.C. Transit’s policy suggests wheelchair users have priority.

“Strollers must be collapsible,” according to information posted on its website. “When the wheelchair positions are required by another customer using a wheelchair or scooter: the customer should fold the stroller, move to another available seat and store the stroller between the seats.”

Compliance with the policy, however, is left to the discretion of the customer.

“As a public service, we cannot deny service to customers that in are in compliance with our rules,” according to information from the public relations department.

“Transit operates on first-come, first-served basis. In reality, we have found that most of our customers are willing to offer their seats for people with disabilities or mobility challenges.”

Joanne Neubauer, however, thinks enforcement of the stroller-folding recommendation is needed.

“We think the bus drivers need to be doing their job,” she said.

As vice-president of the Action Committee of People with Disabilities, Neubauer uses a wheelchair and relies on the bus to go everywhere. She’s also been left waiting at the curb many times when strollers are parked in the priority seating.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Take the Spinal Cord Injury Quiz

Take the following quiz to test your understanding of spinal cord injury and its causes.

1: Firearms are a leading cause of spinal cord injury.

2: You don’t have to have direct trauma to your neck to actually break the vertebrae and injure the cord.

3: Helmets will help prevent spinal cord injuries.

4: Spinal cord injuries can paralyze you, but not kill you directly.

5: Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injury in people under the age of 65.

6: If you suffer an injury like a fractured cervical vertebrae (neck bone) that can lead to a spinal cord injury, you may not have any pain or symptoms right away.


1: TRUE — If you’ve ever seen pictures of EMTs and paramedics working on a gunshot wound victim you may also have noticed the patient often is immobilized on a long backboard with a cervical collar, even when there appears to be no injury to the neck or back. The force of a bullet going into the torso creates a strong energy wave and, in some cases, a sudden and extreme increase in heat. This pressure and heat can cause severe damage to surrounding bone and tissue even without direct contact from the bullet. Patients are kept immobile on a backboard until spinal injuries are ruled out.

2: TRUE — For example, hitting your head on the bottom of a pool can cause direct trauma to your forehead, but the force is transferred back to the cervical (neck) portion of the spine and can result in a breaking of the vertebral bone and a stretching, tearing, or severing of the spinal nerves that are supposed to be protected within the vertebral bones. This also factors in with injuries sustained when diving into the surf and not knowing there’s a sandbar or shallow water beneath; diving into a lake or river and not realizing it’s shallow or that there are rocks, pilings, old cars, or other obstructions hidden below the surface; or body surfing on a day when the surf is rough and the waves are breaking close to shore. The latter are known as “dumpers” because they “dump” you hard onto the sand.

3: FALSE – Helmets protect your head and, depending on the type, your face, too. They do little to nothing to protect your spine.

4: FALSE – If the spinal injury is up high enough on the neck, you will not be able to control your breathing. If you are in the water when this occurs, death may occur even faster, especially if you are face down and nobody realizes you cannot roll yourself over. Many sufferers of spinal cord injury do die of secondary problems, months or years later.

5: TRUE — Being thrown from a car greatly increases the risk of spinal cord injury. Even low-speed accidents can cause spinal injury if no seat belt was worn. Insist that everyone (including you) wear a seat belt, and don’t drive with anyone who has been drinking alcohol.

6: TRUE — It’s not uncommon to have EMTs and paramedics immobilize a person at the scene of an accident based solely on what we call the mechanism of injury. Even if symptoms are not present, a cervical bone fracture may be present. This broken bone could move and slice the spinal cord or there may be a contusion (bruise) on the spinal cord that may not result in numbness or paralysis until the swelling increases minutes to hours later. If the pre-hospital medical personnel suggest you go to the hospital to have your neck/spine checked out, do so. There may be indications of this type of injury of which you are unaware.

More than half the 11,000 people who suffer spinal cord injury each year are between the ages of 15 and 29. Most of these tragic injuries are the result of sports injuries, diving, car accidents, and gunshot wounds. Older adults tend to suffer spinal cord injury more often from falls.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Motorcycle for Wheelchair User

The Mobility Conquest, a sleek motorcycle trike designed for the wheelchair-bound, will make its debut July 4-9 at the National Veteran’s Wheelchair Games in Denver.

We are excited to participate and sponsor the Veterans Wheelchair Games. We look forward to helping our service men and women reconnect with their passion for riding motorcycles.

The Conquest offers stylish freedom for the wheelchair-bound driver with challenges from the waist down who wants to still enjoy the thrill of riding a cycle on the open road. The Conquest offers convenience, maneuverability and safety to a driver. It also offers independence as entry into the trike is easy with the driver remaining in his/her own wheelchair and gliding up the built-in, rear ramp. The trike then safely locks into place for a smooth ride. The Mobility Conquest is dedicated to providing handicapped persons who have a love of the road and desire to reconnect with the sport following disability.

The trike is fully road and track tested and complies with U.S. safety standards. A BMW engine allows the trike to accelerate to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds. Six hand-controlled forward gears plus reverse and keyless entry are standard on all Conquests. Each trike can be tailored to individual needs and other options are also available. An added benefit: each trike can comfortably accommodate a passenger. Uniquely designed front and rear suspension help to avoid any changes to driving or handling due to the increased weight of a passenger. Another benefit is that a service animal may also ride along. 

The Conquest Motorcycle
The Conquest Motorcycle

Friday, July 2, 2010

Catch a Wave and You'lll be Sitting on Top of a Chair

Summer at the Jersey Shore usually comes with a dip in the ocean. It's refreshing, fun and potentially treacherous.

It left Paul Haynes a quadriplegic, and 21-year-old Madeline McNichol with a broken neck.

"I was in so much pain," said Madeline.

"I thought I was going to die," said Paul. He was just standing in waist deep water in Ocean City to cool off, when a powerful wave changed his life forever.

"I didn't think it had the strength that it did to pick me up because I'm 6-5 and I weigh 250 pounds. And believe me I was picked up like a rag doll and drove me straight into the ocean bottom," said Paul.


In an instant, this hard working New Jersey family man was paralyzed and just barely alive.

"He looked at me and I said it's going to be okay. Sorry and he rolled his eyes back like ya know, gee I don't know. It was pretty traumatic," said Jeanne Haynes, Paul's wife.

Paul survived and now depends on his wife and a wheelchair for everything.

"I didn't think it was possible," said Paul.

"The oceans a dangerous place," said Nancy McNichol, Madeline's mother. She's relieved her daughter is home and able to move, after the accident less than two weeks ago.

Every summer the family goes to Wildwood Crest. Madeline has dived into the ocean hundreds of times. This time her head slammed into a sandbar.

"The waves are rough. The water gets very shallow very quickly. The tides change. The sandbars come in and they go and it's not, it's not as safe," said Madeline. She knows she's very lucky.