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The Sacramento Bee: Walking technology makes strides in helping stroke, spinal cord patients

From the Sacramento Bee:

Nearly four years ago, Michael Bejar was lifting weights in a Folsom gym when he felt a distinct pop in his head. It was a hemorrhagic stroke, followed later by two blood clots in his brain. Together, they left him virtually paralyzed from the neck down. At one point, doctors told his wife that Bejar would never walk again.

But, little by little, over months and years of aggressive physical therapy at home, hospitals and gyms, he’s been slowly, painstakingly recovering. The former security guard has had to relearn everything, from tying his shoes to navigating the stairs at his two-story home. Today, at 61, his left side is still numb but he can stand and walk, albeit haltingly, with two canes.

Despite his hurdles, the father of two grown children has a single-minded goal: “I want to walk around (independently) by baseball season. I’m a Giants fan, so my goal is to be able to walk into the stadium without any assistance: no cane, wheelchair, nothing.”

Toward that ambition, he’s going twice a week to SCI-FIT, a physical therapy center in Sacramento that specializes in treating individuals with stroke or spinal cord injuries. On a recent morning, in sweats and with a bandana tied around his head, Bejar helped a trainer strap his impaired left leg into a Kickstart, one of the newer rehabilitative technology tools designed for patients such as him. Leaning on a cane, he took a wobbly but complete trek around the carpeted room.

stroke survivor with kickstart

photo by Sacramento Bee


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