Dan – I Sustained a spinal cord injury at C6/7 in April, 2012, at the age of 20. Injury caused by blunt trauma resulting in a severe contusion of the spinal cord. Classified as AISA – A at time of jury. Medical intervention was spinal immobilization via traction, IV infusion of methylprednisolone (steroid), and finally surgical fusion of the C6 & C7 vertebrae. Daniel remained in intensive care for 11 days, and then inpatient rehabilitation for 10 weeks before being discharged to continue with outpatient PT and OT.
In the months following my injury, I dove pretty deep into the body of research dealing with SCI. The general prognostic message from my doctor(s) was bleak; I had a “complete” SCI, which put me in an unfortunate statistical bracket, and the only clinical trials offered to me at the time were for pharmaceutical interventions intended to address secondary issues like loss of bone density. Like most in my situation, my sights were set on functional recovery to a state near my pre-injury body.
Aside from some small-scale experimental research, mostly done in rat models, I was finding that the literature pointed to physical therapy being the current best option for this goal. Specifically, physical therapy that is intense, task-specific, repetitive, and involving weight-bearing.
I was learning this while receiving “traditional” therapy that focused on my gaining independence and preventing secondary medical complications. I tried to convince my PTs to allow me time in the brand-new robotic locomotor training machine, to use the FES bike, and was stonewalled. I didn’t have enough preserved function to justify those treatments—back to arm strengthening and uneven transfers.
Then came Sakina, about 5 months after injury, and Jackie a few months later. I did regular therapy with Sakina four times a week for about 2.5 years, alternating with Jackie pretty frequently.
I travel the country visiting neuro-rehabilitation clinics for my business, selling therapy tools that facilitate aggressive activity-based therapies (for your own good, please google “activity based therapy spinal cord injury”). Which is to say, I seek out the rare breed of neuro PT for whom the job is their passion, the cutting-edge research their evening reading material.
Even among this subset of individuals, Sakina sits comfortably atop the highest tier. She truly loves what she does. She is constantly expanding her skill set (recently into vestibular and Parkinson’s, but in a few months it will be new disciplines once those are mastered), reading the research, generating creative solutions to fit the various idiosyncratic needs of her patients. Jackie is very much a protégé of this great therapist model.
They will treat you the way the research clearly says you ought to be treated. It will be obvious immediately that they care about you as a person, spend time thinking about ways to treat you better in their off-time, and are truly invested in your recovery. If you were like me, searching for the grail of PTs, here they are. Otherwise, you will be pleasantly surprised.