Paralympics fans had difficult time, changes may not happen

Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press Updated 5:22 pm, Sunday, March 18, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-9', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 9', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Kim Tong-hyung, AP Image 1of/9 CaptionClose Image 1 of 9 In this March 11, 2018, photo, Erica Mitchell, a Chicago native and an accomplished player in women's sled hockey, who came to the games as a spectator, poses at the Gangneung Hockey Center in Gangneung, South Korea. Mitchell was one of many people with disabilities who spoke to The Associated Press about accessibility problems at the Paralympic Games in South Korea’s rural east, despite what organizers described as a “perfectly” organized event that provided the “highest level” of access. less In this March 11, 2018, photo, Erica Mitchell, a Chicago native and an accomplished player in women's sled hockey, who came to the games as a spectator, poses at the Gangneung Hockey Center in Gangneung, South ... more Photo: Kim Tong-hyung, AP Image 2 of 9 In this March 12, 2018, photo, South Korean Park Mi-ae poses in front of the Gangneung Hockey Center in Gangneung, South Korea. Park, a 53-year-old Gangneung resident who came to a hockey game on crutches while recovering from a foot injury, hoped that the experience of accommodating a large number of disabled people and athletes will help make her city a safer and friendlier place for the disabled. The thousands from across Continue Reading

How a paralyzed man reinvented the wheelchair to help people walk again

Health The following is an excerpt from Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World (Gefen Publishing: March 2018 It started with a coupon in the mail. In 1996, Lily Goffer went to the mall in Nazareth, the largest city in the northern district of Israel; she was buying a pair of jeans for her husband. On a lark, she filled out a form to win a free all-terrain vehicle, and several weeks later, learned she had won. Her husband, Amit Goffer, had no interest in the machine. When it arrived, he sold it to a neighbor for half of what it was worth. But his children complained so much that he decided to make it up to them. One morning, Goffer rented a few ATVs and set off to ride across a dusty patch of wilderness not far from their home. The kids, he felt, would have a great time. Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now On the outskirts of Sepporis, an idyllic biblical village, Goffer rode with his daughter, while his son took off on his own, kicking up dirt behind him as the machines growled along the dusty trails. But not long after the ride began, the brakes on Goffer’s vehicle failed. The doctor went careening off the trail and crashed into a tree. His daughter emerged unscathed, but Goffer snapped his neck against the branches. Lying on the ground, he was terrified. “I couldn’t feel anything,” he says, “and I understood immediately what happened to me.” Prior to his accident, Goffer had founded a company that made MRI devices for operating rooms. So he understood the science behind disability. As his children came running over, he told them to back away. “Don’t touch me,” he said, “I’m a quadriplegic.” He knew he would never walk again. The next nine months were bleak. Goffer was paralyzed from his upper back down. He had slight movement in his arms, and eventually learned how to use an electronic wheelchair. That helped, but he constantly felt cramped and Continue Reading

When sleep hurts: UCLA doctor tells you how to make your bed — and lie in it — to eliminate back pain

By Steven Rosenberg | [email protected] | Daily News PUBLISHED: September 2, 2012 at 12:00 am | UPDATED: August 28, 2017 at 8:37 am You spend a third of your life sleeping, give or take, and sometimes the way you sleep can lead to chronic back pain. The cure for that pain could be getting rid of an old, worn-out mattress, doubling (or tripling) down on pillows, or getting off the couch and walking around the block. Those are a few of the potential cures recommended by Dr. David E. Fish, a medical doctor on staff with the UCLA Spine Center with a master’s degree in public health, who’s partnered with mattress retailer Sit ‘n Sleep — you know, the “We’ll beat any advertised price or your mattress is FREEEEEEEE!!!”/”You’re KILLING me Larry!!!” people — to spread the word about not just buying new beds but doing all you can for a healthy, pain-free back. Dr. Fish, whose calls himself a “physiatrist,” agreed to answer any question we threw at him, but we stuck to back pain and its relief, given that he’s an expert in that very field. Once we agreed on the spelling of physiatrist, we went on with the interview: Q: What does a Physiatrist do? A: We’re doctors that deal in functional restoration for people with either a disability or a functional deficit. The classic example is Christopher Reeve. In the prime of his life he has a spinal cord injury. He needs to functionally return. Someone had to put him in that chair, someone had to teach him how to use the chair. Someone had to deal with the medical issues. Another example would be someone with a disc herniation in their back. After the surgeon potentially removes the disc, they have ongoing pain issues, they’ve got issues with functional deficits — they’re not able to use their leg, or if they have weakness in their foot they may need a brace or something like that. The physiatrist is the one Continue Reading

Beach injuries can ruin a good day, change a life

On a recent sunny afternoon, Katie Workman, of Doylestown, Ohio, was watching her son play on the Ocean City sand by the ocean — a body of water she won't even dip a toe in."I have never been in it," she said. "I don't want to be swept away by a shark."But another danger lurks in the water, and it has nothing to do with fear of jaws: spinal and neck injuries.Accidents involving those sent nine people to a hospital near Rehoboth Beach alone last year. Up the coast, hundreds are injured during the summer in the beach towns. And some say the chances for injuries may be worse along the coast's replenished beaches. READ MORE:  As Ocean City evolves, it shoots for the skyTrips to the emergency room occur in a variety of ways, such as diving into the water where it's too shallow or people landing on their heads after being hit by a wave that swept them off their feet.Along with riptides, these are the types of injuries that lifeguards and emergency officials warn beachgoers about most.Josh Basile knows how a good day at the beach can be ruined.In August 2004, Basile's life as an 18-year-old changed forever when he was hit from behind by a wave.He crashed into the surf, and his head hit the sand, which he described as hard as concrete. He couldn't move his arms or his legs as his friends dragged him out of the water."The second you put your guard down, something bad can happen," Basile said.That day, Basile broke his neck and became a quadriplegic. Basile now works to make sure people are aware of the dangers of the ocean.Experts warn that, without caution, injuries like Basile's are a a real possibility for beachgoers, but what's causing these punishing waves is questioned.Basile urges caution for others now as they visit the beach, as do experts who have studied beach injuries.“The analogy I use is, I ask people if they would close their eyes and run across Route 1,” said Dr. Paul Continue Reading

Marc Buoniconti of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis is thrilled  with FDA’s decision to allow Schwann cells for medical treatment of spinal cord injuries

When he learned the news of the Food and Drug Administration's approval for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis to use Schwann cells for medical treatment of spinal cord injuries, Marc Buoniconti says the first person he called was his father, Nick, the Hall of Fame Dolphins linebacker. "One of the proudest phone calls I've ever had to make," says Marc, 46, the president of the Miami Project. The younger Buoniconti has been paralyzed from the neck down since suffering a spinal cord injury in 1985 playing football for The Citadel. When the FDA gave the green light to the Miami Project for Schwann cell treatment this summer — Schwann cells are peripheral nerve cells taken from a patient with a spinal cord injury and injected into the injury site — it was the culmination of 27 years of work on behalf of Nick, Marc and Dr. Barth Green, the Project's co-founder with Nick. At the 27th annual "Great Sports Legends" dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Sept. 24 — which benefits the Buoniconti Fund and draws numerous sports and entertainment luminaries — Nick Buoniconti was thrilled to have finally cleared the last major hurdle for the organization's goal to treat spinal cord patients with the hope of finding permanent cures for paralysis. "Every year we came (to New York), we had a promise to people that we were going to get FDA approval. We thought we were going to get FDA approval a year ago," says Nick Buoniconti, 71. "It took us an extra year for us to submit the 'investigative new drug' application. It took (the FDA) nine months to review it and come back with questions. We're the experts here. We know more about spinal cord injury and more about how drugs work in the spinal cord better than anybody in the world." Now comes the waiting process, which Marc calls "kind of eerie. "Our subjects are still walking around," says Marc. He adds that the patients with acute thoracic spinal cord injuries are candidates, but that they Continue Reading

How a tiny fiber implant is giving new hope to people with spinal cord injuries

TUCSON — One after another, everything cracked.First went the brick wall he never saw and the front end of the Chrysler minivan he never meant to send crashing into it. Then the impact shattered his ankles, the screen of his cellphone and his right arm, and finally, agonizingly, the fragile vertebrae that surrounded Nick Stockwell’s spinal cord.Paramedics came to the Holiday Inn parking lot and pried him out of the front seat. He tried to stand, but only half of his body responded: In his chest and arms he felt nothing but pain, and in his legs he felt nothing at all. He collapsed to the pavement.They gave Nick five shots of painkillers, loaded him into an ambulance and made the nine-mile drive to Banner University Medical Center in Tucson. After hours of X-rays and MRIs, Nick borrowed his uncle’s phone and called his dad in Michigan, where it was 4 a.m.“Something really bad happened,” Nick started, and then he told his dad everything he could remember: He had pulled up to the hotel and unhooked his seatbelt, already reaching for the pizzas he was about to deliver. Inside the hotel was a big tip, he was sure of it. Ten dollars, maybe. Then his body convulsed and his foot jammed into the gas pedal, and at the hospital a doctor showed him an MRI and pointed to where his T12 and L1 vertebrae had shattered.  And now he was paralyzed.As his parents bought the first plane tickets to Arizona, a research coordinator from the University of Arizona came to Nick’s room. He would need metal rods and screws to hold his spinal cord in place. Had his injury happened some other time, near some other hospital, that would have been all they could do. RELATED: UA researchers develop new way to look inside brainBut spinal cord research was finally advancing. The hospital was looking for patients to enter in the INSPIRE study, the most promising nationwide clinical trial Continue Reading

Eric LeGrand, 5 years after injury, only takes no from Secret Service

It took Secret Service threats for Eric LeGrand to finally take no for an answer.And even then LeGrand worked out a compromise.The former Rutgers football star, who is now the face of spinal cord injury research and awareness, was at the White House with his mother and Christopher Reeve Foundation CEO Peter Wilderotter to meet with a senior adviser to President Barack Obama in July 2013.The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the foundation’s resource center, the need for more research funding and early progress in epidural stimulation, a burgeoning project called The Big Idea.“All of a sudden Eric says, ‘I’m going to go see him,’ and he starts wheeling down the driveway,” Wilderotter said. “The secret service are like, ‘Eric, you’ve got to stop.’ He’s like, ‘No, I’m going to see ‘O.’ ’ I said, ‘They’re going to shoot you. They’ve got snipers on the roof.’ ”That warning only kind of worked, because LeGrand decided he wanted his picture taken and convinced enough people to turn their heads so he could get the snapshot with the cool backdrop.“He bargained,” Wilderotter said. “And that’s Eric.”Five years ago Friday, LeGrand, a Colonia High School product, suffered a paralyzing injury while making a tackle in a Rutgers football game against Army.In the spirit of his inspirational message, the former No. 52 is celebrating the five-year anniversary by launching a campaign to raise $52,000 for his foundation. Texting “LeGrand” to 20222 will initiate a $5 donation to Team LeGrand that will be added to your next cellphone bill.“I’m celebrating all the things that have happened since this injury,” LeGrand said. “How I’ve been able to persevere and help other people, build a foundation, build a career for myself, finish school.”The initial prognosis from Continue Reading

U.S. approves first stem cell study for spinal injury

A U.S. biotech company says it plans to start this summer the world's first study of a treatment based on human embryonic stem cells — a long-awaited project aimed at spinal cord injury. The company gained federal permission this week to inject eight to 10 patients with cells derived from embryonic cells, said Dr. Thomas Okarma, president and CEO of Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif. The patients will be paraplegics, who can use their arms but can't walk. They will receive a single injection within two weeks of their injury. The study is aimed at testing the safety of the procedure, but doctors will also look for signs of improvement like return of sensation or movement in the legs, Okarma said. Whatever its outcome, the study will mark a new chapter in the contentious history of embryonic stem cell research in the United States — a field where debate spilled out of the laboratory long ago and into national politics. While some overseas doctors claim to use human embryonic stem cells in their clinics, stem cell experts said they knew of no previous human studies that use such cells. "It's a milestone and it's a breakthrough for the field" because Geron passed the safety hurdles for getting federal clearance to launch the study, said Ed Baetge, chief scientific officer of Novocell Inc. His company hopes to begin a similar human study for treating diabetes in a few years. In addition, said spinal cord injury researcher Dr. Wise Young of Rutgers University, "a lot of hope of the spinal cord injury community is riding on this trial." Embryonic stem cells can develop into any cell of the body, and scientists have long hoped to harness them for creating replacement tissues to treat a variety of diseases. But research has been controversial because embryos must be destroyed to obtain them. President Barack Obama has promised to relax the Bush administration's restrictions on federal financing for such research. But Obama's ascent to the White Continue Reading

Could Freddie Gray have severed his own spine in a Baltimore police van? It’s highly unlikely

Is it possible that Freddie Gray could have severed his own spine and crushed his own voicebox? From a medical standpoint, it is unlikely that the 25-year-old Baltimore man injured himself in the back of that van. The severity of his injuries seem too grave for him to have done that to himself simply by thrashing around or banging his head on something. A PROTEST IS DETAINED BY NEW YORK POLICE IN UNION SQUARE It is more likely that there was some type of direct blow to either the front or back of his neck, or somewhere along the spinal cord along his back. How does a spinal cord injury happen? A spinal cord injury is "damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function such as mobility or feeling." This type of injury is most often caused by a traumatic blow of the kind that would be sustained in a car accident, severe fall or an act of violence. There must be a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more of the vertebrae, or when a gun shot or knife penetrates the spinal cord. After a spinal cord injury, bleeding, inflammation and swelling occurs, and fluid builds up in and around the spinal cord. POLICE VAN THAT FREDDIE GRAY RODE IN MADE UNREPORTED STOP Without immediate treatment, this can lead to permanent paralysis, or in Gray’s case, death. Baltimore police officers have already been suspended for failing to get Gray prompt medical care. The higher in the back or neck the spinal cord injury occurs, the more dysfunction a person will have as a result. So with a spinal cord injury that occurs from a blow to the neck, a person usually loses function in the arms and legs. The Washington Post on Wednesday obtained testimony allegedly given by another prisoner who was in the van with Gray, who said he may have injured himself during the ride in the back of the van to the police station. Continue Reading