DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

From Football Player to Having A Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Paul McCrary

The Diagnosis: Spinal Cord Injury

On the opening kickoff of a high school football game in Windsor Ontario, over 7 years ago I broke my neck. It was later that week declared  that I had a spinal cord injury/ I was a "C5 quadriplegic, ASIA B." I was paralyzed from everywhere below my shoulders, no movement at all. Doctors told me an ideal recovery would include regaining some use of my hands, with little hope thought of recovery in the lower body. I was told I'd spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

My Spinal Cord Injury Journey

Skipping what I could write an entire book about, basically I started wiggling my left big toe three months after my injury. From there, a few other connections were regained and by six months post injury, my body was able to bear weight on my feet again. It took another 3-6 months to start taking little, uncontrolled, jerky steps. Through my whole spinal cord injury recovery, doubtful therapists and nurses told me movements like these were "just spasms" and "aren't really me"... they said the same when I started moving my legs three months after my injury. 

By 2010 I could walk a length of parallel bars with ankle braces which kept my foot fixed in to flexion. By two years (2011) I could walk about 20 feet with a two-wheeled walker (which had to be weighed down so I could pull on it for balance). By three years (2012) I was able to begin using my current forearm crutches. At the time I could only go across the room, and I needed a spotter for balance. After four years (2013) I began driving again, and without the use of adaptive aids, a goal I'd stayed true to for four years.

I also began to experiment with walking outside. I was still heavily reliant on my wheelchair most of the day, and only walked as exercise up until this point. After five years (2014), I finally made the leap to leave my wheelchair behind. After weaning off of it (in terms of usage per-day) for most of the year, I moved out of my mother's house to live on my own. It was a rash move to prove my independence. My mother and brother both used to help me out with everything when I lived at home. I wanted to be forced to do things for myself. Year six (2015) began on the top of a mountain in terms of my recovery. I did what the doctors said I would never do. It took me five years, but they said I'd only recover for 1-2 years. I began to allow myself to live a normal life again. I started volunteering at my old physio clinic, went back to school for movement science, and started working as a personal trainer there as well.

I'm on a new level: Helping People With A Spinal Cord Injury

My first client was, in fact, a quadriplegic. Larry McRae, who I met through volunteering with my old physiotherapist. I went back to school to become a physiotherapist so I could work with quadriplegics, but I didn't think it would happen within three months of enrolling (although I'm his trainer, not his therapist, the whole motive was to help quadriplegics and others recover from paralysis in the most effective way possible). Since then, I've also trained a handful of other neurological patients and hundreds of athletes and even just ordinary people interested in moving better.

Since I found myself already helping people the way I wanted to, and putting most of my time and energy into that, it was impossible to keep up the marks in school needed to be accepted into PT school. So I dropped out, and now I'm a full time, walking quadriplegic strength coach, helping as many people as I can (including myself) move better! And I couldn't be happier.

My Story: https://www.google.ca/amp/windsorstar.com/sports/mccrary-walks-away-from-wheelchair/amp 

Larry's Story: https://www.google.ca/amp/windsorstar.com/news/local-news/mcrae-gets-back-on-up/amp

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