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The Power of Physical Therapy

A recent news story has detailed the amazing progress that a victim of a hit-and-run incident has made. Rob Summers, from Oregan, USA, was left a paraplegic after being run over by a car. The horrific incident resulted in Summers being paralysed from the chest down after his spine was damaged. Before this, Summers was an avid baseball player and was even part of the team who won the College World Series in 2006.

The physical therapy treatment works by stimulating the spinal cord using an electrical current. This allows Summers to move his toes, hips, knees and ankles of his own accord, as well as being able to walk on a treadmill whilst being supported. The damage to his spine has meant that messages from the brain are unable to travel down the spinal cord. Electrodes were implanted into Summers’ spine by surgeons and he was given physical therapy treatment on a daily basis to stand, walk and move his legs whilst electrical pulses were released down his spinal cord. It was a matter of days before Summers could move his legs himself. Reggie Edgerton, from the University of California, described the feeling when the results were first revealed.

“None of us believed it. I was afraid to believe it.”

This alternative method of physical therapy is not to be seen as a cure for paralysis according to a Dr Melissa Andrews, from the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, but it does give hope to many paraplegics.

Dr Andrews explained by saying, “I think people need to read this and say the possibility is out there, but it may not come tomorrow. It’s the closest we’ve ever seen and it’s the best hope right now.”