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Thankful for NeuroRecovery Network Therapists

By: Janelle LoBello

Charles Medley is thankful for all the support he received from the NeuroRecovery Network therapists

Name: Charles Medley
Injury: C3-C7
Mechanism of Injury: Surgery
Date of Injury: October 2010

He was a Marine in the Vietnam War from April of 1973 to November of 1975 and came out alive. Thirty-five years later, Charles Medley, now 61-years-old, was about to fight a different kind of war.

In October of 2010, Medley, now 61-years-old, was scheduled to have surgery to repair and remove bone spurs from his spinal cord, as well as a procedure to correct a swallowing issue. Medley went home to recover with no worries for about ten days; soon after, the site of the surgery became seriously infected, compressing his spinal cord, injuring him at the C3-C7 vertebra level.

Medley required two more surgeries to remove the infectious material and to replace the bones in his spinal cord with a cadaver bone, reinforcing it with a titanium plate.

Going forward
"I was out of it for three months," recalls Charles of his surgeries. "People tell me, 'Ya know, you didn't even look like you.' I was 240 pounds and dropped to 145. The only thing I really remember is being out of there [the hospital] for good."

"He spent pretty much all of 2011 in rehab," says Medley’s wife, Cheryl. "He started at OSU rehab in Gahanna [Ohio] then a physical therapist there recommended him for the NRN [NeuroRecovery Network.]" From there, Medley began the NRN at Ohio State Medical Center in July of 2011.

"They started me walking on the locomotor treadmill," explains Medley. "Once they saw how good I was walking, they started having me run on the treadmill."

The NeuroRecovery Network is a cooperative network of cutting-edge rehabilitation centers designed to provide and develop therapies to promote functional recovery and improve the health and quality of life of people living with paralysis.

Locomotor training is the method of physical therapy currently deployed by the NRN. In locomotor training sessions the body of the paralyzed patient is suspended in a harness over a treadmill, while specially-trained therapists move their legs to simulate walking. As the patient regains function, he moves from the treadmill to conventional walking. No two NRN patients will respond in exactly the same way, nor is each patient likely to experience the entire range of possible changes and improvements.

Charles on truck
Medley (pictured before he was injured) is still progressing after the NRN

Still progressing after completing the NRN in December of 2011, Medley, hasn’t used a wheelchair since completing the NRN program. "My walker and wheelchair are in the basement! There are still a lot of things I plan on doing." On his own, Medley has developed a goal to begin riding his bike again. "I went out and bought a helmet and everything!"

All-around support
Extremely thankful for the opportunity to be part of the NRN, Medley is especially appreciative for those who surrounded him and helped him along the way.

"My trainer, Mitsy, always used to say 'Yes, you can do it,'" explains Medley of the encouragement he received from his physical therapists at the NRN. Because of this support, Medley never allowed himself to fall short. "Never say no. I give that team a whole lot of praise, because they are the ones who got me through this."

Medley is honored he even had the opportunity to have these people by his side.

"I'm so proud to know I have a good family, and good people in this world that have faith in me," says Medley. "Those NRN teams worked so beautifully as far as I'm concerned. It's not just 'I got a paycheck.' They are professional, professional people. These people have really helped me. If they need anything I'm ready to do it."

Learn More
Learn all about how the Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) is developing and expanding access to activity-based therapies, resulting in improved health, quality of life, and function.

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders