Macomb Township man turns his tragedy into a dream

February 21, 2017

Andre Edwards of Macomb Township doesn’t remember much about the car accident that broke his spine and left him paralyzed from the waist down.

He was only 4 years old.

What he does remember is before the crash he was able to run around and pester his sister like a lot of boys his age. Since then he’s become a young man of 21 who must rely on a wheelchair to get around. And while he could be bitter about the road rage that led to that dreadful day in the fall of 2000, he has chosen to use his wheelchair to propel his future.

“I wish I could still walk but I know, stressing out about it is a waste of time,” Edwards said. “I’m focused on making a life for myself, playing wheelchair basketball, getting a job and finding my own place.”

That could happen, considering his determination to succeed, which has him attending business classes at Oakland Community College and wheelchair basketball practices in Dearborn, in addition to working out at the Recovery Project in Clinton Township two to three times a week.

“We’ve been working on maintaining his lower body strength, mobility and circulation,” said David Taylor of Clinton Township, a personal trainer at the Recovery Project. “It’s designed to help in his general life but also his athletic life.”

On this particular day, Edwards was working on a piece of equipment that enabled him to stand up, and use his arms to pull on weights. It is one of many exercises that Edwards does at the center, which specializes in aggressive neurological rehabilitation. The Clinton Township center, along with its FES specialty center and a second location in Livonia, provide patients with a unique approach to rehabilitation that combines evidence-based techniques and specialized state-of-the-art equipment.

It was developed by spinal cord patient Charlie Parkhill. After sustaining an incomplete spinal cord injury, Parkhill was told by doctors he would never regain meaningful function or walk again. But Parkhill and Swingle worked together to prove them wrong, coming up with unusual workouts and protocol that yielded incredible results: Parkhill walked more than 100 feet, unassisted.

Inspired by their results and hoping to share the same joy they experienced with others suffering the same fate, the two founded the center in 2003.

“I’ve been working with Andre for five years,” Taylor said. “When he first came he was shy and unsure about what he could do. I’ve seen him grow to become more mature, outgoing and much stronger.”

Edwards smiled at the comments shared by Taylor, who is not only helping him maintain his health but his work toward his goals.

“One of my dreams is to make the Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Team and win a gold medal,” said Edwards, who started playing for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) as a junior attending Troy Athens High School.

Now, he is point guard for the Detroit Diehards, a competitive men’s NWBA team that travels around the country.

Edwards said he would also like to own a professional basketball team one day.

“If none of it works out I still want to be working in the sports industry,” he said.

The Recovery Project has locations at 15500 19 Mile Road, Suite 330, Clinton Township and 2000 Victor Parkway, Suite 100, Livonia.

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