A 3-year-old paralyzed Kentucky boy has learned to walk again after trying a therapy that was financed by the Christopher Reeve Foundations’ Neuro-Recovery Network.
“The spinal cord itself has a great capacity to learn, to remember, to forget and to make decisions,” Harkema said. “And the spinal cord can do that even when it’s disconnected from the brain.”
The therapy re-teaches the spinal cord how to control motor functions such as walking, through repetitive motion. After 15 years of testing and research the therapy has now helped hundreds of spinal cord injury victims to be healthy and to even walk in some instances!
That miracle is now giving hope to thousands more, including one young mother, Renee Ford, whose 2-year-old son, Chase, hit his head while jumping on a couch, injuring his spinal cord. “He was pale white… He was shaking, crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t even stop him,” Ford said. “Chase hit his head so hard that it bruised the central spinal cord area. … He was actually paralyzed from the neck down.”
The prognosis was a parent’s worst nightmare. “To hear that Chase did this much damage to his body, a little tiny body, and he’s going to be in a wheelchair forever…” Ford said, crying. A month after the accident, Harkema accepted Chase into the locomotor training. “When I first saw him, he could not move his arms and legs at all,” Harkema said. The center had never had a patient so young, but Chase responded to the therapy.