Upwards of 250,000 people suffer from severe spinal cord injuries, and many of those patients have lost the ability to use their arms, legs, or even most of their bodies. There are very few treatment options available for paralysis and spinal cord injury victims, but a recent article in Health Scout from the Ivanhoe Broadcast News reported on a controversial camp that is providing new hope for many patients. The camp in question is in Sanford, Florida, and patients at the camp are encouraged to get out of their wheelchairs and ‘stand on their own,’ the article reported.
One patient, 20-year-old quadriplegic Amanda Perla, was mentioned in the article as being able to stand by herself with the help of a metal bar. Two years ago, Amanda was paralyzed in a tragic car accident on her prom night. She was told by doctors she would never walk again and would be bound to a powered wheelchair for the rest of her life, but six months later, with the help of the Step Up Recovery Center, she has transitioned to a manually powered wheelchair.
The owner and founder of the Step Up Recovery Center, Amanda Perla’s mother Liza Reidel, opened up the center as her response to the hopelessness and lack of available treatment options presented to her daughter by doctors. At the center, spinal cord injury recovery specialists prompt patients to get up out of their wheelchairs and perform ‘aggressive exercise and repetitive motions’ in an attempt to ‘reorganize the nervous system,’ the article read.
While some doctors have criticized the recovery center for providing false hope to its patients, the goals of the center are to ‘help patients regain function,’ and to ‘possibly even walk again.’ Although Amanda Perla is still bound to a wheelchair, she noted that she has already recovered beyond the expectations of her doctors, and she believes that with further treatment and rehabilitation she will walk again some day.
Clients at the recovery center undergo three-hour therapy sessions three or four times a week. While critics worry about giving patients false hope, the center advocates progressive action in the face of an otherwise dreary prognosis. It is a progressive advance to offer movement therapy and physical rehabilitation attempts to patients who would otherwise have resigned themselves to life in wheelchairs with no hope.
Although patients at the center have yet to walk again after paralysis, the increased movement and deliberate exercise is something the patients would not otherwise be exposed to, and in that sense, it provides a positive option where one did not previously exist.