When Brent Adams overshot a jump on a dirt bike in December 2007, he ended up with severe injuries that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“I went way too high and way too far,” Adams said. “It was a bad deal for sure.”
But with help from an Atlanta therapy program and fundraising by Central Florida friends, he has new hope for mobility.
“I am bound and determined to walk again,” said Adams, 27, who was living in Little Rock, Ark., and selling bank-teller equipment at the time of his accident.
He shattered his left shoulder and broke other bones, including 11 ribs, his sternum and a lower portion of his back, which caused paralysis because the break disrupted his spinal cord.
“I spent most of 2008 in the hospital,” he said. To stabilize him, doctors placed metal devices in his spine. His left shoulder had to be reconstructed with metal devices too.
Adams had to give up his job and return to his childhood stomping ground of Leesburg, where he attended both middle and high school at Mount Dora Christian Home and Bible School.
But during three months in a program called Beyond Therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, he has made significant progress toward his goal of walking.
“I’ve made tons of improvement. It’s like boot camp,” Adams said of his experience at the Shepherd Center, a hospital that specializes in rehabilitating people with spinal-cord injuries. “It’s a lot of hard work. I’m dripping sweat every day.”
He can now walk using a walker and leg braces, though a therapist still has to move his knees for him. He hopes to restore movement in his knees so that he can walk more independently, and he notes that “they are trying to wean me from the braces.” He has chronicled his progress in a blog at brentadams.blogspot.com.
Adams had insurance when the accident occurred, but it won’t pay for his therapy. He got help last month when his friend of nine years, Robin Lashley of Altamonte Springs, organized a “corn-hole” tournament to raise money.
The object of the corn-hole game is to throw a bag filled with corn or other material into a hole, or to get it as close as possible. Held in Longwood, the tournament drew about 100 people and raised $7,100 for Adams’ rehabilitation expenses.
“It was a lot of fun. Everybody had a great time,” Lashley said.
The tournament was kept secret from Adams, who thought he was visiting for the weekend to attend a relative’s party.
“It was unreal,” Adams said. “There was a mob of people with signs and banners. They had big signs with sponsors and T-shirts. I was completely shocked.”
The money raised at the tournament will pay for most of his expenses at the Shepherd Center, Adams said. He’ll continue with his therapy in Atlanta until mid-September, then return to Leesburg, where he now lives with his parents.
He said his therapy is based on research showing that physical activity and repetitive-movement exercises can create new neural pathways in the brain. Those pathways might help him regain his ability to walk, he said, though it’s difficult for medical practitioners to predict how much success spinal-cord-injury patients can have because every case is different.
“I still have a ways to go,” Adams said, “but it’s coming.”
By Rosalind Jennings
Special To The Sentinel
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