Eric LeGrand Makes History
Kessler Foundation congratulates Eric LeGrand on earning a spot on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. Voted on by the fans, it is the first time in the magazine's 50-year history that a Rutgers football player has appeared on the cover.
Eric LeGrand was paralyzed on a tackle that went wrong on October 16, 2010. As an outpatient at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, Eric recently started the locomotor training program as part of the Christopher and Dana Reeve NeuroRecovery Network (NRN). This program is made possible as a result of Kessler Foundation. The Foundation is one of only seven centers in the nation to be a part of the NRN. Dr. Gail Forrest, PhD, senior research scientist at Kessler Foundation studies the effects that locomotor training has on each participant.
In locomotor training, the individual is harnessed over a treadmill as three therapists move his or her legs in a walking motion. The idea is that the repetitive motion will retrain the nervous system and regrow damaged nerve cells. Before or after the treadmill sessions, individuals perform overground exercises to improve their balance, strength, and mobility.
“We’ve seen patients in wheelchairs be able to walk with a walker or crutches, and people on crutches be able to walk independently,” Dr. Forrest said. “The results have been amazing. The goal isn’t just getting an individual to walk again. Standing and the simulated walking improves bone density, circulation, heart and lung function, and bowel and bladder care, which are often secondary complications of paralysis.” Dr. Forrest is studying numerous techniques to improve walking and mobility in individuals with paralysis, including locomotor training, the LokomatPro V6, Ekso, and electrical stimulation. She is working to identify which patients benefit from each treatment to yield better outcomes.
Eric makes the drive to Kessler five days a week for his locomotor training sessions (watch Eric and Dr. Forrest being interviewed by Don Dahler of CBS News during his locomotor training session). His progress will be evaluated next month to see if he can continue in the program. Always with a positive attitude and a smile, he’s working hard to regain the function that he lost. One thing can be said about Eric—he will never give up. He shows his appreciation for his supporters by fully committing himself to get stronger every day.
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