Every Move Counts By Aaron Baker

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 22, 2015 # Health

It’s Friday, early September, and the end of another solid week of work and work-outs. As I type my thoughts, I sip on a protein infused, fruit and vegetable smoothie to aid in my energy and muscle recovery (within 30 minutes post-workout) for best results. I like to drink most of my calories because it’s easier for my body to absorb nutrients, and helps to reduce uncomfortable bloating caused by heavy, difficult-to-digest foods.

My name is Aaron Baker and I’m a recovering Quadriplegic. I preface the term Quadriplegic with “recovering” because to me, the term implies learning and improving myself. Even still, after sixteen years post-injury, my body continues to either progress or regress, depending upon how much time and attention I give it.

From the onset of this condition, my family and I have rebuilt our lives with “health” as our first priority. With this approach, we have learned a way to manage and control this injury, rather than to have the injury control us. Yes, bowel and bladder are at the epicenter of my awareness, and dictate the start to the day, but with consistency and a bit of planning, it has become less-burdensome and more of a gauge for my health.

I can tell you with 100% certainty, that if I stop exercising my muscles, fueling myself with quality foods, and resting both my mind and body, all the health and functional gains I have been able to achieve will regress quickly, and land me back into a state of full body paralysis… and I will suffer the long, painful list of secondary complications that typically follow a disabling condition.

Simply put, it’s Isaac Newton’s 1st Law: “The law of inertia”.

“An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force”…That force is my mind.

I have to willfully make my body move. It is a conscious act of intention and focus. I work out 3-5 times per week and use a wide variety of Restorative Exercise™ techniques and different modalities like: a cane, a manual wheelchair and a motorized scooter to manage my overall time, energy, and risk. By doing so, I am able to remain in motion without over exerting, over training, and/or burning myself out psychologically with the immense mental effort it takes me to complete even the simplest tasks.

The bottom line is… Move!

Life is kinetic, everything is in motion, and the human body is made of moving parts that makes it designed to move. So if you can’t move standing up, move sitting down. If you can’t move sitting down, move lying down. If you can't move at all, then think about movement, and channel your energetic thoughts through your body, visualizing movement, as someone assists you through range of motion.

I am often asked: “how long did it take to regain motor and sensory control of your body?” For me, that question is difficult to answer because of the variable “time”. This type of injury is very subjective and has no clear path of recovery, and becomes a way of living, rather than a phase or chapter in life like a broken bone that can typically heal in 8-12 weeks, cut the cast off and move on as though nothing ever happened.

I have discovered that my continued, overall improvement and better quality of life is based on my consistency and discipline to cultivate all things kinetic. I use “goal setting” as a way to work for incremental gains along my path towards short-term, long-term and ultimate goals in my life.

This injury has had a profound affect on my life and shapes the way I perceive and value each moment. A ventilator machine and respiratory failure forced me to recognize the gift of a simple, life giving breath. And my once paralyzed body, like stone, taught me to celebrate the tiniest twitch of a single toe. And the motion of contracting muscles, has been an opportunity, for me to hug those that I love most, and today, allows me to pursue once thought impossible goals such as pedaling a bicycle across the U.S. (twice), walking across Death Valley, California and racing down mountainsides atop a savage, custom recumbent cycle.

The fact is that the process is the progress and it’s all relative. For me to stay positive and moving forward, I employ these five fundamentals: Awareness, Gratitude, Action, Nature and Nurture…

My days begin with gratitude -- a mantra I repeat for my body, my family and all that is. I like to take action by pursuing short-term, long-term, and ultimate goals I set for myself. I prefer to take action in nature, live consciously and aware enjoying the connection to this life-giving earth. And by nurturing myself, I am strong enough to nurture others. I am alive and grateful with the ability to empower another with my service. My greatest gift is time and love, and through this great adversity, I have learned to not just survive, but… Thrive!

About Aaron

Aaron Baker has always been one to defy the odds, and has been for the past sixteen years.Since he sustained a C5 spinal cord injury in 1999 on a motocross track, Aaron has been working to regain movement over time through training and physical therapy. Now he is taking his movement to the next level with his film Coming to My Senses: A Journey to Reclaim Movement, which will document his 20 mile walk across Death Valley, while pushing his body to its limits and beyond.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.