Overcoming the Obstacle Course of SCI
We often talk about heroes. But few people deserve that description more than 25-year-old 1LT Reinaldo Gonzalez II.
In 2001, Reinaldo volunteered for the Army. He wanted nothing more than to serve his country as a career soldier. But in January, 2007, Reinaldo had an accident while running an Army Ranger obstacle course. He fell 35 feet from a free-standing ladder and landed on his neck. He pinched his spinal cord at the C-4 vertebrae and flipped his C-6 and C-7 vertebrae. He was immediately paralyzed from the neck down.
When Reinaldo entered the Columbus Regional Medical Center, he could only move his eyes and lips. But he was soon transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was referred to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey and later, the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta, Georgia. There he took part in revolutionary therapies that were developed with the support of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. And now 19 months after his injury, he is walking under his own power.
This would have never been possible without the breakthroughs in treatment that have come from Reeve Foundation funded research.
Many U.S. soldiers are coming home from the Iraq war with spinal cord injuries like Reinaldo's. For these brave men and women, the best hope of recovery is the Foundation’s groundbreaking research -- and your kind support.
The Kessler Institute, and later the Shepard Center in Atlanta, where Reinaldo did his physical and occupational therapy, are two of our seven NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) sites. At these centers, we are bringing cutting-edge scientific research from the lab directly to the patient. "The NRN challenged him," Reinaldo's mother, Elizabeth, says. She explains that his therapists would have him run with support on the treadmill to build up his endurance and when he would get off the machine, "he could walk better, he got healthier, and his quality of life was better."
Reinaldo now says he's 90 percent recovered. He's still running and working to improve his strength and conditioning. His goal is to go back to finish Ranger school and move forward with his Army career. He's even prepared to tackle that obstacle course again.
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