N. Texas Paraplegic Talks About Spinal Cord Injury

Published: May 4, 2009  |  Source: cbs11tv.com
240

toddhowellOne of the people injured Saturday, when the Dallas Cowboys training facility collapsed, was scouting assistant Rich Behm. He is now paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors who treat spinal cord patients say the road to recovery can be difficult.

Two years ago, Todd Howell raced bikes. “I was racing motorcross and went over the bars; broke my back in three places,” Howell said of his accident.

The injury left the 39-year-old paralyzed from the waist down, and he now uses a wheelchair to get around. “It’s like being reborn. You have to re-learn everything.”

Doctors say most paraplegics will go through about six weeks of intensive therapy, which includes physical, emotional and nutritional counseling. “Our goal, for someone who is otherwise healthy, is that when they leave here in six weeks, that they are able to live by themselves,” explained Dr. Lance Bruce, with the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation.

Former Motorcross biker Todd Howell.  KTVT / KTXA
Former Motorcross biker Todd Howell. KTVT / KTXA

Dr. Bruce said Howell’s injury is similar to Behm’s injury. “We would expect this person to have full use of his hands and arms, able to snap his fingers or whatever, but would not have any control of his legs, bowels, bladder,” Dr. Bruce explained as he pointed to a skeletal model.

Meanwhile, Howell said, in addition to the tough physical challenges, he struggled emotionally. “I felt like I lost a life, instantly,” said Howell. “I cried a lot. Being a grown man crying was hard.”

Today Howell says he’s doing better. He can drive and work. He credits his improvement to support and an open mind. “There is life after being paraplegic,” he said.

(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Marianne Martinez
DALLAS (CBS 11 News)