AUSTIN (KXAN) - Nearly 6 million Americans, one in 50, suffer some form of paralysis. Recovery can be slow or non-existent.
Things are different at the Seton Brain and Spine Center, they take a different approach. And they're getting lots of help from the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation created by former Texas football hero Doug English.
Most spinal centers concentrate on teaching patients to adapt to their condition. Seton focuses on training and rehab so patients can improve their condition.
Patients like Daniel Curtis. On Memorial Day a year ago, he broke his sixth cervical vertebra when he slipped diving into a pool.
"It's a huge physical disability but there's also an emotional struggle," Curtis said. "Everything you had is taken out from underneath you."
He works out five days a week at Seton on their new zero-gravity device, one of only 14 in the country.
With computers and sensors it calibrates the amount of weight Daniel puts on his legs. In harness he cannot fall while his body re-teaches itself how to walk.
Dr. Roger Parthasarathy said Seton has "the equipment to push them to maximize their ability to function. Daniel is improving quite nicely. He's extremely motivated to recover."
The zero-gravity device was possible because of a $220,000 gift from Doug English's Lone Star Paralysis Foundation.
English was a football star at Texas and the Detroit Lions, until a near lethal neck injury cut his career short.
"That kind of got neck injuries on my radar screen," he said. "When they told me how close I was to dying."
English's foundation provided all the equipment for Seton's Spine Center, he says thanks to generous donors.
He said, "Quality of life goes way up when you recover even part of what you lost. Not everyone comes all the way back but it makes a big difference with a severe spinal cord injury."
Daniel knows it takes time, "It's a very slow process. That makes us patient people. But there's been a result, it's noticeable, He said. "Where do I want to be someday? I want to run in the Boston Marathon, that's where I want to be."
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