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Testimonial: Spinal cord injury

Testimonial: Spinal cord injury

Hello, my name is Ryan Clarkson and I am an incomplete paraplegic.

On June 21st of 2009 I had a major car accident that damaged my spine at the L1, L2 levels. After 2 weeks in the hospital I was transferred to the GF-Strong rehab center. The accident was very difficult on me and my family. What made things worse was that all the doctors and medical professionals either told me I would have to depend on the wheelchair and catheters my whole life or they wouldn’t comment at all about my future. This was a lot to digest, but we started to look for other forms of treatment anyways.

I first heard about hyperbaric oxygen treatments when I was in rehab at GF strong. So my parents and I did a little research and decided to give it a try. I wasn’t sure what to expect, or if it would work at all. My first session was roughly 3 months after my accident. At this point I still had a tremendous amount of pain while awake and while trying to sleep. I was using supplements and stool softeners for my bowel routine, catheters for my bladder. I started to crutch walk at this point, but it was very sketchy and scary. I could only walk for a few minutes until I would get tired and my back would get stiff.

After the first couple of sessions i noticed that my energy level went up. I would notice this around 4 in the afternoon, when I usually would be tired, but to sore to nap.

After a couple more sessions my sleep was getting a lot better and my over all pain level was decreasing and I was getting more confidence in my walking. By the time I was towards the end of my sessions I was feeling much better. My sleep was better, pain lower, energy higher. But the most improvement I noticed was in my bowel and bladder. Although I was still using catheters, I regained feeling in my bladder. This was great because I could know when I had to avoid.

My pain and energy levels were so good that I wheeled from my place on Kingsway and Clark all the way to Granville Island. And on another occasion I wheeled from Metrotown in Burnaby all the way back to my place.

Now that my sessions were over, I was working full time with a physiotherapist on my walking. As the months past I was still improving greatly. a few months later I had no need for a catheter, I would just use a leg bag when I left my home (for anyone who has to use a catheter this is huge). I was off all bowel medications and knew when I had to go to the bathroom.

Roughly 4 months later I went back to the HBO chamber for some more sessions. At this point my biggest accomplishments were walking up to the 8th floor of my apartment, and walking for 45 minutes during physiotherapy. Now it has been 16 months since my accident and I am grateful for the improvement so far. I am off all medication (for pain and bodily functions). I can crutch walk 1 km in a hour, and I walked up to the 17th floor of my apartment from the first. I’ve got a lot of feeling back in my legs and feet as well. I know that I still got a long way to go, but if I ask any professional in any field and they tell me that the progress made is amazing.

I’ve already surpassed everyone’s expectations of what my limits are supposed to be, and I look forward to keep proving them wrong!!

Ryan Clarkson, – Vancouver 

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 Information contained on this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education. It should not be used as a substitute for any medical professional opinion, advice or prescribed medication nor should it serve as diagnosis or treatment of health problems.