Continuing with the protocols developed by Polly and implemented by The Recovery Project’s PTs, a chronology of Charlie’s progress follows: 1999: Begins walking with standard walker 2001: Walks ¼ mile with standard walker 2006: Takes first two unassisted steps documented in a November 8, 2006 Detroit Free Press article entitled “NO RETREAT NO GIVING IN” 2008: Takes 100 unassisted steps 2010: First 100 foot (unassisted) walk 2013-2014: This was his first year without a personal best, so Charlie added extra leg exercises and increased workouts to six days a week. As a result, one of the last walks of 2014, he again neared the 100 feet mark, a portion of which can be seen here with a goal to never have a maintenance or plateau year, he has added a one hour/week session on TRP’s RT300 electrical stim cycle, leading to some of the best unassisted walking in his life.
However, Charlie does not measure his overall rehabilitation by the distance walked or physical achievements, but by its effect on overall quality of life. “I wanted to walk and I do. Far greater are the rewards of aiming for great heights, and being rewarded by the successes along the way – as my friend and fellow SCI Tracy Stone reminds us, “If you shoot for the stars you may reach the moon”. I count among the successes: excellent health (no hospital days for SCI related issues, no skin break down) and the stamina and ability to contribute to TRP, participate on advisory boards of the University of Michigan Model Spinal Cord System and Michigan Spinal Cord Injury Association. Not the least of all, presiding over the Mary and Charles A. Parkhill Foundation for Spinal Cord Rehabilitation, where with Mary, Polly and an energetic, committed and supportive board, we have been able to provide rehabilitative therapies throughout the country for individuals with SCI and TBI who otherwise would not have the resources to reach for their stars. “ When Polly and Charlie started TRP, “we wanted to see what could happen if an individual with an SCI could sustain a high level of intensive therapy over an extended period of time. If so, with what outcome?” The journey is not complete, but after 17 years, the results speak for themselves. Click here to see a recent video of Charlie walking.