Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Defying The Prognosis

"Every time I feel a sudden urge of inspiration I grab my magic marker. None of them [inspirational messages] are very planned. They're all kind of spur-of-the-moment."
"It's [his wheelchair] at my mom's house now and it's been there since I moved out [in October]. I lasted about four years in a wheelchair. I'm just trying to get better every day."
"It's like a total body workout to use those [hiking poles]. It's always been something that's been on my mind [to become ambulatory again], something that I've said either I'm going to get there or I'm going to die trying, one or the other."
"I believe you have to visualize something first for it to happen. Every progress I make, people will say, 'I think this is it. This is as far as you're going to go.' They keep trying to set these limitations on me. Everybody projects their own insecurities and doubts on to you, I think. You just can't let it get in the way."
"I've been able to continue on with a lot of the things that I didn't do after the injury. Everything in my life has changed a lot since then. Anywhere that has stairs I can now access. I'm travelling on my own. I'm living on my own now. There's big-time independence."
Paul McCrary, 22, University of Windsor kinetics student, Windsor, Ontario
Nick Brancaccio / Postmedia News
Nick Brancaccio / Postmedia News    Former Windsor high school football player 
Paul McCrary continues his remarkable recovery after breaking his neck in a game in 2009.
"I wouldn't say he's one of a kind, but he's one of a few. We have lots of patients who just want to walk into their next doctor's appointment and say, 'Told you so'."
"Therapy isn't about what you do in the hour with the therapist. It's about what you do the other 23 hours of the day. My input into Paul is a drop in the ocean compared to what he does outside of therapy."
Julie Vaughan-Graham, physiotherapist, Toronto

It is nothing short of amazing what effort, hope and determination can accomplish. A teenager who suffered a horrible sports injury, ending up with a broken neck. Game over, right? The official diagnosis was: C5/6 spinal cord contusion and compression; C5/6 incomplete quadriplegic. The 'incomplete' referring to the fact that his spinal cord hadn't been fully severed; some feeling was retained in his body but did not include movement below his shoulders with the exception of his biceps.

All four limbs were affected. "I was told I would live the rest of my life in a wheelchair", said Paul McCrary who in 2009, while playing the game he loved -- high-school football, collided with another player head on, during the opening kickoff. That collision left him with the injury that gave him no hope for his future other than as a wheelchair-bound young man whose options had suddenly become incredibly straitened.

Now, however, he ambulates with the help of crutches. And latterly has been experimenting with  hiking poles which give him no support, but help his balance. He is able now to walk about six metres using the hiking poles. In such injuries as this young man sustained any hope of long-term recovery is dependent on factors such as appropriate early treatment and accessibility to rehabilitation facilities.

Jason Kryk / Postmedia News
Jason Kryk / Postmedia News    Paul McCrary walks down steps at the University of 
Windsor on February 25.

The young man is now a second-year student at university. He has regained his driver's license. And his parents glow with pride at his accomplishment in forging ahead with his life to realize his ambitions and overcome any obstacles to his goals. "It's just amazing. There's no other way to describe it", says his mother wonderingly and she's absolutely correct.

Much of the cost related to living expenses is covered by the Ontario Disability Support Program. The Ontario Student Assistance Program pays for his university fees. Other costs are handled with the assistance of family and friends. But the young man isn't just a taker, he's also a giver. And for the present, his way of giving is to volunteer in the physiotherapy wing of a local hospital, working with stroke victims.

"I try to maintain it [his encouraging sense of looking forward] and hopefully inspire people with it. I've got other goals. I'd like to get out of the crutches now And again, I don't know 100 percent that I'm going to get out of them, but I am definitely working toward it and if I can, I definitely will. The way I approached the game of football my last year or two of high school, that's where I learned a lot of the work ethic and discipline it takes to do something like this. That's really helped me.

"I still love the game. I'd totally go out and buckle up my chinstrap again. I would recommend and encourage anyone that likes it to play it still. I would say it was worth it. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life."

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