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NRN@Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center is one of seven rehabilitation centers that have partnered with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the NeuroRecovery Network. The NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) is designed to provide and develop therapies to promote functional recovery and improve the health and quality of life for people living with paralysis.

The Shepherd Center is not enrolling patients into the NRN program at this time. However, researchers are completing follow-up assessments on previously enrolled patients through 2014. Shepherd staff members are actively involved in furthering NRN reimbursement initiatives, which are vital to the financial viability of this intervention. Additionally, the team will continue to produce research materials and participate in other projects related to the NRN and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Testimonials from former Shepherd Center NRN patients:

Shepherd Center NRN: CharleneCharlene
Age: 50
Date of Injury: Feb 2006
Type of Injury: Incomplete paraplegia (C6 ASIA D)
Mechanism of Injury: Car accident

Initial Status: Before starting locomotor training (LT), Charlene was using a wheelchair to get around in her home and in the community.

Goals: Charlene's goals were:
1. To return to walking full time
2. To return to her favorite hobby: hiking with her husband Peter

Treatment: Charlene participated in 40 LT sessions at Shepherd. During the treadmill training, Charlene and her therapists worked on improving her ability to balance in standing, and increase her endurance and independence with walking. Her therapy off of the treadmill included balance and posture training in standing, stretching, leg strengthening exercises, and gait training with a variety of assistive devices.

Outcomes: As a result of participating in locomotor training, Charlene progressed from using a wheelchair to walking with a cane full time. Charlene has also returned to hiking with her husband. In 2007 Charlene and her husband spent some time hiking in Sedona, AZ.

Shepherd Center NRN: JeremyJeremy
Age: 20
Date of Injury: 10/23/2007
Type of Injury: Incomplete paraplegia (C7 ASIA D)
Mechanism of Injury: Auto accident

Initial Status: Jeremy arrived at the NRN program already ambulating household distances using a rolling walker, but using his wheelchair when he left the house. His walking was very difficult and time-consuming, primarily because his left leg was weaker and required a lot of energy to pull through.

Goals: Jeremy's goal while in the NRN program was always to progress his walking to the most functional level possible. This included the ability to walk full time in the community, and to handle the many challenges found there with ease and efficiency. While he was able to walk over level surfaces, it was another thing entirely to walk up a hill or step over wet grass.

Treatment: A high school athlete (Jeremy was a star basketball player), Jeremy displayed tireless focus and endurance during his training in the NRN program. He would spend about one hour training on a body-weight supported treadmill, walking at fast speeds with the assistance of a team. Once off the treadmill, he performed many different tasks to promote refining his balance, building strength in necessary muscles, and achieving proper posture and form with each movement.

Outcomes: As a result of incredibly hard work, Jeremy eventually transitioned to walking with two forearm crutches and began walking full time in the community. After graduating from the NRN program, Jeremy began college for the first time, and is now pursuing a degree in computer engineering. The campus he navigates everyday is very large, with gravel, grass, curbs, ramps and any other challenge one could think of; he is able to handle all this and more while racing to his next class!

Shepherd Center NRN: NeilNeil
Age: 54
Date of Injury: 3/27/2009
Type of Injury: Incomplete paraplegia (T4 ASIA D)
Mechanism of Injury: 50 ft. fall from boom truck

Initial Status: Prior to starting NRN, Neil underwent surgery for a pressure sore he acquired during his initial hospitalization back home. As a result, his activity had been very limited for 6 months. Neil was not ambulating and was dependent on a wheelchair to get around in his home and in the community. He was unable to stand unassisted, and required assist of 2-3 people to stand up from a chair.

Goals: Neil most importantly wanted to walk! He also wanted to strengthen and to learn the skills necessary to continue to improve when he returned home.

Treatment: Neil participated in 180 locomotor training sessions over a 10 month period at Shepherd. He did take a short break to witness the birth of his first grandchild! During the body weight supported (BWS) training, Neil and his treadmill team worked on getting the best possible walking pattern and standing with good posture. Neil's therapy off the treadmill began with training his sitting balance and his ability to stand unassisted. As he grew stronger, his sessions began to focus more on walking independently and improving his walking ability.

Outcomes: Early in his therapy, Neil began ambulating with a walker and assist of 2 people. After 60 sessions he was able to walk with a walker on his own. His posture and standing balance improved to the point where he could stand unassisted. He began conquering more challenging balance tasks, such as picking up a slipper off the floor. He exercised at the gym every day and always was ready for new challenges. By the end of his 180 sessions, Neil was walking with 2 canes unassisted. His wife let the air out of his wheelchair tires and Neil never used the wheelchair again. Now he is driving himself to the gym and spending time with his granddaughter as he continues to work towards his full recovery.

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders