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Hope for spinal cord injuries once 'drummed out,' now returns

Locomotor therapy is giving new hope to people with catastrophic spinal cord injuries sustained in incidents involving everything from cross-country skiing to truck accidents. It used to be that the more paralyzed you were - not able to pull yourself up on parallel bars, for example, as Jeremy Olson reports for the Star Tribune - the less health care professionals were likely to suggest exercise as treatment.

Nowadays, all of that has changed.

Locomotor therapy involves electrical stimulation to an injured patient's muscles, and can consist of anything from running while suspended by cables to pedaling a stationary bike, as 61-year-old Susan Fink does, after being injured in a cross-country skiing accident.

And a young man who was paralyzed in a diving accident has been pursuing locomotor therapy on a regular basis, trying to "stay as fit as I can," as Olson reports, "and hopefully be a good contestant when they do come up with something."

In both Fink's and the young man's cases, early doctors' prognoses have been blasted out of the water. The young man, for instance, was said to have required a ventilator to breathe (now he apparently doesn't) and went from not being able to turn one revolution on a hand-crank exercise machine to doing 200.

Source: New treatments give spinal cord injury patients hope

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