Serving More SCI patients - Gaining More Function - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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July 2014: Spinal Cord Injuries
Serving More Patients - Gaining More Function

19-yr-old amazed at recovery

RIC's cares for SCI patientsWyiatt Ackerson always enjoyed staying active and working with his hands. At 19 years old, Wyiatt founded and operated a successful landscaping business in his hometown of Byron, Illinois.

On March 22, 2014, gunfire broke out at a party and Wyiatt was shot in the shoulder, injuring his spinal cord. Before this incident, Wyiatt had never been in a hospital before. He had very limited movement in his arms and legs, able to do little more than flex his thigh. Motivated by the outpouring of support from his family, girlfriend and home town, Wyiatt’s therapy began. Dr. Chen and his team developed a custom program specifically tailored to Wyiatt’s injury, using an integrated approach that included intensive treatments combined with physical and occupational therapy.

At first, he started with simple stretches and stationary bike exercises, then moved on to focus on more complex movements. Challenged and encouraged by his therapists every step of the way, Wyiatt began a daily walking program with harness supported treadmill gait training. This helped him to relearn the motor functions of walking faster, more symmetrically and more efficiently. He soon progressed to using a rolling walker and spent time practicing on his own using RIC’s anti-gravity track, which offers overhead mobility support that spans an entire hospital floor.

Without RIC, Wyiatt has trouble imagining where he’d be in his recovery. With each passing day, a new movement is achieved and he is amazed at the pace at which he regains strength. “I am so grateful for RIC.” said Wyiatt. “My progress has given me hope for the future and each day I feel more prepared to move on from this experience and continue with my life.”

Aside from these accomplishments, Wyiatt truly enjoyed getting to know his fellow patients and experienced a strong sense of camaraderie as they spent time together in the rec room. In addition, he feels that the encouragement and support of the RIC staff went a long way to bringing him to his full potential.

Today, Wyiatt’s hard work is paying off. He can stand and walk using only a cane and is very confident that soon this will be done without any assistance or devices. While looking forward to going home, his main goal is to improve his balance and hand function to a point where he can use the savings he earned from his landscaping business to pursue a college career in welding.

Promising new SCI trials open

RIC spinal cord injury researchRIC is accepting participants in recently posted trials to study functional improvements, strength, training, stiffness, reflexes and medications.

Pharmacological-Robotic Interventions to Promote Functional Recovery in SCI
To learn if training using a walking robotic device (Lokomat) and/or a new oral medication (Tizanidine) are effective in reducing stiffness in your muscles and providing functional improvements in your walking capacity.

Impact of Persistent Conductances on Motor Unit Firing in SCI
To study differences in upper arm strength and reflexes after chronic spinal cord injury, and how strength and reflexes change after taking certain medications.

See other SCI-related clinical trials descriptions.

37th Annual Interdisciplinary Spinal Cord Injury Course sold out at RIC

RIC's educational program features SCI coursesThis comprehensive conference utilized an interdisciplinary approach to address and update spinal cord care by focusing on current research, technology and practice. The course addressed concepts surrounding treatment and interventions for post-SCI patients by practitioners in all aspects of patient care. Issues ranged from bone health to advances in locomotor training and maximizing the functional propulsion potential of manual wheelchair users in patients with spinal cord injury. Health care issues transitioning from pediatrics to adulthood and aging with a spinal cord injury were also discussed.

Laboratory sessions with interactive workshops allowed participants to follow self-guided tracks featuring practice skills including gait training, NMES/FES, functional mobility/mat skills, seating & positioning considerations for active wheelchair users and advancements in mobile arm support technology.

The course was chaired by Jason Barbas, PT, DPT, NCS; David Chen, MD; and Kimberly Eberhardt-Muir, MS, OTR/L

See more onsite and webinar-based continuing education courses offered at RIC's Academy.

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