Daily Archives: December 11, 2008
For decades, he treated patients in the Roanoke Valley as an orthopedic surgeon, but a bicycle accident flipped the script. In an instant, Dr. Bertram Spetzler was paralyzed, and he went from being a doctor to being a patient.
He is a quadriplegic, meaning he has paralysis in his arms and legs. Since late October, he has been undergoing therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. This is the same place News7 visited with Roanoke police officer Brian Lawrence when he was injured. It’s place of hope for many with spinal cord injuries.
KIM RUSSELL, 46, has lived more than half her life with a spinal cord injury. She thinks the words “false” and “hope” don’t belong in the same sentence: “You’ve got to have hope that tomorrow’s going to be a better day,” she insists.
She is perhaps one of the luckier ones. Married with two daughters – Juliet, 9, and Clare, 12, who have always known their mother in a wheelchair – she still drives from the family home in Avalon to work three days a week as a children’s speech pathologist.
One Sydney scientist likens it to the lunar mission; a potentially great but risky step forward. For some people with spinal cord injury – 15,000 in Australia, increasing by one a day – there finally appears cautious hope that feeling or even movement in paralysed limbs might one day be restored, even if no one is quite prepared to say exactly if it will be in this generation of patients or the next.
American health authorities may soon approve the world’s first trials of a human embryonic stem cell-derived product for spinal cord injury, GRNOPC1, after the California pharmaceutical company Geron handed 22,500 pages to the US Food and Drug Administration to justify GRNOPC1’s testing in human patients, perhaps within two weeks of injury.