16 June 2009


Hey hey, home fries!

Most important for this update is that Dr. Carlos Lima and friends were in town over the weekend to give a presentation on his OMA surgery, research, etc., over at the WTLTSCIR facility in town.

I'll share a better explanation soon, I hope, but for now, a quick refresher: "OMA" stands for "olfactory mucosal autograft", which refers to an adult (non-embryonic, not NC-17) stem cell transplant procedure that involves moving stem cells from waaay up in the nose ("olfactory mucosal") to the site of spinal cord lesion ("autograft", where "auto-" indicates that the graft uses a person's own cells). I had this surgery last year, 11 April 2008, and it's why I'm here recovering and writing. That's good for now, and I'll pretend you're in suspense until I reiterate the process more thoroughly or you reread some old posts.

Anywho, Dr. Lima's presentation was hi-qual if not a bit old hat, and it was good to see/hear/brag to him about progress. I like to keep under my hat the stuff that is most important to me, but take my word that I can do quite a bit more than a C4-C5 quad should (manual chair, anyone?), and Dr. Lima deserves some credit in that regard.

The other presentations were excellent as well. There was a showcase of Japanese "robosuit" technology, implementing electrically assistive prosthetics - exoskeletons, really - to enable patients with rather high spinal injuries to sit, stand, and even walk without other assistance. Wow. Finally, Dr. Steve Hinderer of DMC/Wayne State gave a very thorough analysis of available therapeutic activities; I'm hoping to get a copy of his slides, but until then I can't begin to do justice with a summary.

In the usual realm of therapy, just a few particularly special activities happened in the past weekish. I used a new weight machine, the Uppertone, over on the inpatient neuro floor (6) of RIM. Without buttering it up too much, it's just a different, more self-contained and quad-friendly weapon for doing the exercises I usually do with the weights at first floor Brasza's gym. I did rows and chest presses - standard weighty fare. Also, for the first time in a long time, I did rolling stuff on the mat. My shoulders were not pleased! Oh well. Otherwise, no Giger since my first session, but plenty of e-stim biking and some time outside in the delicious Friday weather, being warm and relearning how to travel in a straight line with the power assist wheels.

Today-at-time-of-writing, Tuesday, consisted of some random short-sit exercises, followed by Uppertone rows/chest presses, and a wrap-up of FES bike and Wii tennis. Blood pressure and shoulder muscles were misbehaving, so it wasn't the most productive session on record. Further, I was pretty much awful at digitennis - rusty! On the optimistic side, I didn't go passive on the bike, so my leg muscles are getting back into the swing of things.

Wait, what's "going passive" all about? Ideally, the e-stim bike runs in "active therapy" mode, meaning the cycling procedure is accomplished by my own muscle power through the evoked contractions caused by the bike's timed electrical impulses. That is, I am actively pedaling. In contrast, "passive therapy" means there is no electrical stimulation of my muscles, and the cycling process is merely the bike-powered rotation of the pedals with my feet attached. In other words, I'm not doing anything, passively going through the motions of pedaling the bike. Active therapy is obviously much better - it is real exercise, since my muscles are doing the work. However, the bike goes into passive when it detects that the necessary muscles are sufficiently fatigued. Passive is better than nothing, as it's still reminding the body of a useful motion system, but the goal is to stay in active therapy through the entire cycling session.

Eh, I guess I should stop and actually post. Those who know, bask in the glory of what hasn't been said... Rock out!


  1. ughhhhh i want to see you motor along in your manuchair like whoa.

    and shoulders are overrated anyway.

    miss you, john. keep up the fantastic work, and the blog entries.


  2. John -it's great to hear you're back working hard in pt. Keep up the active ergys biking. Your Mom and I are having lunch on Monday, so if your ears are burning, we might be talking about you. Thanks for the updates.

  3. Hey John,

    You sound like you are doing great.
    I'm sure Jonathan and the NEWO team would wish you to call with an update (I think it's been a year since you first called) so we can all brag on YOU!