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Thread: Stonewall man walks, with brace, for first time in 16 years

  1. #1
    Senior Member KIM's Avatar
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    Stonewall man walks, with brace, for first time in 16 years

    Donny Lewing moved deliberately down the hallways of Doctors' Hospital in Shreveport on Tuesday afternoon. With determination etched on his face, the Stonewall man moved his legs in sync with crutches that helped hold him upright.

    The task would not be much for most people. But for a paraplegic who has been confined to a wheelchair for 16 years, it ranks right up there as a medical miracles.

    Lewing, 41, is being aided in his walks by a brace that runs from his waist to his feet.

    Still, if it were not for his positive outlook and improved medical condition, he likely would not be making such strides, physical therapist Mack Jacob said.

    "I've worked with many patients who could only walk 20 or 50 feet, but he's walking I'd say about a quarter of a mile."

    Lewing has been walking under Jacob's watchful guidance for the past eight days. It was a decision he made three months ago that got him to this point.

    On Sept. 19, Lewing underwent experimental stem cell surgery in the Neurological Disorder Center of West Hill Hospital in Beijing, China. For the past three months, he has noticed an increased sensation in areas of his body numb from injuring his spinal cord in an automobile accident Sept. 21, 1988.

    "It's been 16 years since I've stood up. It sure feels different," Lewing said.

    He opted for the surgery after learning about it from a Discovery Channel program. He wrote the Michigan physician who was featured. The doctor responded and told Lewing what tests are needed to determine if he is a candidate.

    Once approved for surgery, Lewing began corresponding with Dr. Huang Hongyun of China.

    Lewing's two sons, his parents and an untold number of Stonewall residents helped make the surgery possible by loaning money and supporting fundraisers prior to his trip to China.

    Days after Lewing's arrival, Hongyun transplanted stem cells above and below his two spinal cord breaks with the hope that they would migrate and regenerate the damaged nerves.

    The procedure is considered controversial because it often involves extracting stem cells from fetuses. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved its use in the United States.

    Lewing was given no assurances but was told that it could take anywhere from four to six months or as long as 18 months for him to note any difference in his body. He admits he wanted to wake up and be able to wiggle his toes.

    That didn't happen. But within days of the surgery, Lewing noticed a burning sensation in his legs. It went away, but he retains the same sensation in his feet. Lewing describes it like the feeling one would get by putting bare feet in snow.

    The pain might seem excruciating for some, but not to Lewing. "The way I look at it, any feeling is a good feeling at this time."

    His feet and legs also sweat, unlike before the surgery, and goose bumps at times will cover his lower extremities after a bath.

    "Those are signs of more communication between his brain and his feet ... that the central nervous system is trying to make a connection," Jacob said. "It would seem to be an indication that there's a connection there that wasn't before."

    The most significant improvement is at Lewing's waist. Before the surgery, he could feel nothing below his navel. Now he has feeling to about the top of his blue jeans.

    Along with that comes increased control over his bowels. Though often a delicate subject not widely discussed publicly, bowel and bladder movement is one of the basic bodily functions affected by paralysis that requires daily attention.

    Lewing tackled his by drinking a glass of prune juice daily. "Every night for 16 years, I've had to drink prune juice. And I never liked that stuff.

    "But I've not had any since I've been back," he said with a laugh.

    Ken Candler, administrative director of rehabilitation at Doctors' Hospital, gives Lewing a lot of the credit for his physical improvement. Lewing has been put through intense physical therapy, including being challenged to walk down ramps and up curbs, all of which he mastered.

    "You can say your staff is good, but it's the patient who's got to want to do it," Candler said. "You can tell from his attitude that he does, and that makes a big difference. Rehabilitation is all about helping the patient to be more independent."

    The custom-fit brace Lewing wears to walk needs to be modified some to allow him to be able to bend at the knees when he wants to sit down, Jacob said. Until then, and while Lewing continues to regain more motor control, he can swap between it and his wheelchair.

    "If we can overcome some of the obstacles, I think you're going to see him walk into Wal-Mart," Jacob said. "I'd say he's in the top 99 percent of the people with this type of injury. ... He's an amazing individual to be able to function this well."

    Lewing leaves Doctors Hospital today but will continue outpatient physical therapy as well as his workouts at home that have helped to maintain his upper body strength.

    "I plan to put the brace on and walk two or three hours a day at home for physical therapy. But time will tell.

    "I'm glad I had this surgery because, if I hadn't, then I would have always wondered what if," he said. "But the improvement I've got back is great. I'm just grateful for anything I can get."

    http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/...WS01/512220330

  2. #2
    Senior Member Leo's Avatar
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    Cool, I met Donny when I was there and he was a bit worried cuz nothin happened right away like some others saw.

    Donny, keep us posted. we need to hear the good and the bad.
    http://justadollarplease.org/

    2010 SCINet Clinical Trial Support Squad Member

    "You kids and your cures, why back when I was injured they gave us a wheelchair and that's the way it was and we liked it!" Grumpy Old Man

    .."i used to be able to goof around so much because i knew Superman had my back. now all i've got is his example -- and that's gonna have to be enough."

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    This seems pretty exciting to me, why not many posts?
    EM

  4. #4
    I hate to have to keep repeating myself. The cells that were transplanted are olfactory ensheathing glia and NOT stem cells. Wise.

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    Whichever cells it was, isn't it pretty significant that after 16 years he is up?

    Friends of mine sent the article and I believe they know his family. I've asked to see if I could call him or have him call me.

    I only have two questions to start with:

    - was he Asia A

    - was the cord severed or just bruised

    There are probably many more questions that need to be asked but these are the two most important to me...
    EM

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    There is an excellent article here http://www.cordtalk.org/oeg/more_oeg.htm
    which explains in detail the difference between stem cells and oeg .

  7. #7
    em - not sure what his ASIA score was but 99% of all sci are from bruising and not transection.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Norm's Avatar
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    This is the best case I've heard so far. Or is there better?

  9. #9
    it looks like the walking is with braces and crutches. i wonder if this was attempted before? hopefully it real improvemnts and not media spin
    the media has a way of getting the information wrong. bowels tned to be more problematic than just prune juice.
    "along with that comes increased control over his bowels. Though often a delicate subject not widely discussed publicly, bowel and bladder movement is one of the basic bodily functions affected by paralysis that requires daily attention.
    Lewing tackled his by drinking a glass of prune juice daily. "Every night for 16 years, I've had to drink prune juice. And I never liked that stuff.
    "But I've not had any since I've been back," he said with a laugh."
    Last edited by metronycguy; 12-29-2005 at 11:39 AM.
    cauda equina

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by IanTPoulter
    There is an excellent article here http://www.cordtalk.org/oeg/more_oeg.htm
    which explains in detail the difference between stem cells and oeg .
    Ian, thanks. The original post from which the above website information came from http://carecure.org/forum/showpost.p...59&postcount=1

    Wise.

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