Tim Burr is a client of the Bridging Bionics Foundation. A great skier, he suffered an SCI while skiing in November of 2014. He was kind enough to pen the following for this blog.
Tim Burr Age: 20
Type of Injury: Spinal Cord Injury C5 Incomplete ASIA B Date of Injury: 11/18/2014
Next adventure: Off-road mountain bike ride
Next personal fitness/strengthening goal towards neuro-recovery: I’m still trying to do a pull-up unassisted
Word or short quote that defines you: If you’re not going hard, you’re not going anywhere!
A spinal cord injury affects a person every day of their life in the same way it affects and controls every part of the body. People with spinal cord injuries and paralysis deserve no more pity or empathy than any other person. I say that because I firmly believe that everybody's life is hard, and equally as hard as anyone else's.
Part of life is the action that you take to maneuver through obstructions, tragedies, miracles, and phenomena that every being is subjected to. However there is a difference in perspective that potentially only someone who is injured or spinal cord impaired can visualize. It is the perspective of immobility. Watching life passing by while seated is something very special indeed. There are simple missed opportunities that being wheelchair-bound excludes you from that are more obscure than the inability to climb stairs or hike a mountain. I have found it extremely and exponentially aggravating that when I meet someone new, I have lost the opportunity to stand from my seat, lock eye contact, and firmly shake their hand. No longer do I have the opportunity to throw my arms around friends and family shoulders for a photo. When I'm walking in public strangers no longer see a young, tall, athletic guy I once portrayed. Being in a wheelchair really makes you appreciate these things that we once took for granted.
Bridging Bionics does these things to make them attainable yet again. Bridging Bionics is the action we take to work against our injury. I visit the Eksoskeleton "Tucker" weekly so that, even for one hour, I get to see the world from my true elevation. For that hour my eyes are 6 feet off the ground, and my perspective of the world is exactly as I remember it.
As I've been told by my wiser friends that roll in chairs, after SCI (spinal cord injury) there must be a balance between getting on with life in your present situation, rehabilitating to improve your present situation, and preparing for your future situation. Getting back to life in a wheelchair can be as fun as you make it. Now you have killer parking, your shoes never wear out, you'll never have flabby arms, and you'll always win musical chairs. Life goes on and the world is mostly accessible so you can still enjoy life.
As with any injury, rehab is of the utmost importance, however with an SCI, rehabbing becomes a constant in your life. After your initial injury you can start to rebuild strength and start adapting to life in a chair but as you get farther from that injury, secondary complications and preventative exercise become more of your focus. After breaking my neck, exercise takes about as much time as a part-time job.
My weekly schedule for the better part of the past year has been: Monday – weight training. Tuesday – practice pushing my chair and maneuvering through public spaces. Wednesday – myofascial release and bodywork. Thursday – weight training. Friday – stand upright, do a lower body work out on the Galileo vibration table and walk in the robot (or bionic exoskeleton suit). This schedule paired with a decent diet and amazing support has kept me from having to deal with skin ulcers, UTIs (urinary tract infections), joint contractures, blood clots, low blood pressure, shoulder injuries, and many other secondary complications that seem almost unavoidable after spinal cord injury. But that's not even mentioning the advantages and upgrades, in quality of life, that this rigorous schedule has given me.
There's also the preparation that is needed for what may come in the future. We prepare so that when we are given the opportunity to rise from these chairs, we will be healthy enough, strong enough, and fully equipped to do so. We work for bone density and blood pressure. We work for healthy joints and flexibility. The stagnation that comes with immobility does not apply to us. The Ekso made available to us by the Bridging Bionics Foundation when paired with extensive exercise, and a positive outlook can bridge the gap from immobility to mobility.
Written by Tim Burr
July 27, 2016