Friday, December 2, 2011

November Update

I am still in Atlanta doing the rehab thing--sowly getting stronger, I had some catching up to do since I missed six months with the leg fracture. The biggest thing I have been working on is trying to get this E-Stim unit, the stimulette den2x that came out about six months ago in Europe.  Since it is not yet FDA approved, it has not been easy to try to get but with the persistence of my dad and me, the wheels have finally begun to turn and I hope to finally begin using it before the end of the year.

My spinal cord injury is at the bottom of the cord where it branches off as the signals are sent to muscles in your lower body. When it comes to recovery it is actually a more complicated to be injured at that level. The E-stim in the US is not strong enough to benefit my type of injury.  The stimulette den2x is much stronger but it is really the unique special electrodes they designed that allow you to use such a strong current without damaging or burning your skin. I came across it in May and read all about it.  The device was based on a ten year study in six different countries in 20 different rehab facilities. The study went on to say that it not only builds muscle but even RESTORES muscles.  In the study, all the participants did was stim the quads for six months and a good number of people were able to stand independently in parallel bars for help with balance.
So after discovering this device, I knew I had to have it so I contacted the company that developed it and they told me that not only did it cost $8K but it also required a prescription from a US doctor or them signing off on supervising my use of it.  So I quickly made an appointment with my doctor at Shepherd and asked him to sign off on it.  Unfortunately, due to liability issues, he said no.

I moved here for therapy and also to be at what most people would call the most progressive research facility in the country so I decided to roll myself up to the research floor and talk to them about it.  I did this for weeks and eventually got a meeting with the Director of Research and he was actually very receptive to the idea. When I left we decided we were going to work towards doing a pilot study with the device and me as the lone participant. They just wanted to do their due diligence and make sure it was safe and worth doing. Unfortunately they are moving super slowly on this which has driven me crazy since they say the sooner you start using the device the quicker and better the results. I have been checking in once or twice each week and trying to balance being persistent with not being annoying.  I also asked my Dad to pressure them, since he can speak about science and research a little more fluidly then I.  Despite our efforts I may still have to end up paying for the device for the study but I am trying to get the developers to give it to us for free or at cost since it is for research and may help open the US market for them.

This device has probably the most potential of anything I have done since my accident and I actually expect more results then they had in the study since they only stimmed the quads and I will stim the gluts hams and calves as well.  I also recently had EMG testing done by the research staff in anticipation of a possible research study. The testing showed I have voluntary activation in my gluts, my quads (esp on the right), and even my right calf.  So, I am a little ahead of the people in the trial. In theory over time the device could restore all the muscles I have some activation.  I also will be combining the other weekly therapy with the stim so what might that lead to? I would expect even more gains.  
Like I said I will hopefully I will start this before the end of the year!

Well, as I mentioned in my last post I had quietly been looking at the possibility of returning to work and I am proud to say I started working last week. I am working at a domestic and international freight shipping company Team Worldwide.  I will be doing six months of training to learn the business, starting with support and inside sales work.  I am a little nervous because sitting in this chair is just painful, so doing it for so many hours a day will not be fun but it will be good to get back to working and there is a lot of room for growth with the company. This is also a bit of a relief to find work since I was worried about explaining the two and a half year gap in my resume.  They also are working around my therapy schedule which is very important.  I have to just thank my friend, Chris, for helping make this happen.  He has been in sales at the company for two to three years. Not only did he help me with this but if you remember, I lived with him and his family for about four months when I started therapy in Atlanta earlier this year.  I do not know how I will ever repay him!  I am going all in on this job so if you or anyone you know have any international or domestic shipping needs, please let me know.  We are good at what we do!

I have had to tweak my schedule a bit and also make a few decisions on how best to utilize my time for therapy. My weekday schedule is now pretty much like this:
Wake up 6 AM
Shepherd Therapy 8-11AM
Work 1-8 PM
Home Therapy 9-11 PM

I have added short video of the Wave Machine below, which is another routine I do regularly at Shepherd.  While performing squats, calf raises and other basic exercises, the vibration created by the machine produces a shaking movement in your legs. About 15 minutes of vibration exercise produces results similar to those achieved through one hour of conventional resistance training.  Moreover, the therapy increases bone density and muscle tone, while reducing muscle spasms.

I have been wanting to show more clips of me in therapy but a lot of it is repetitive.  For example, I use the Lokomat (robotic assisted treadmill walking) three times a week.  One of the concepts we work with is muscle memory, so the repetitive activities work within that strengthening that.

Hopefully next month I will be able to share that I have started the new muscle stim and am making some great gains.