Innovative Ways to Help Patients with Spinal Cord Injuries

Steve Adubato goes on-location to Kessler Foundation’s “Transforming Care and Recovery for People with Spinal Cord Injury” event to speak with Kelly Thomas, Research Participant, University of Louisville, who talks about how innovative research has aided her rehabilitation from a spinal cord injury.

8/5/19 #2238






"That's Kelly Thomas, barrel racing in a rodeo. The Florida native was an active teenager, riding horses, playing soccer, and working on the family farm. Then disaster. July, 2014, a car accident left Kelly paralyzed in a wheelchair, with her doctors saying she would never walk again. Steve Adubato on location at Kessler Foundation. We're here for a very important forum, a discussion. It's called Transforming Care and Recovery for People with Spinal Cord Injury. And we're honored to be joined by one of the research participants here tonight. By the way, excuse the sound behind us. A lot of people want to be a part of this conversation. They want to listen and participate. So just bear with us. But Kelly Thomas is a research participant at the Center for Spinal Stimulation at Kessler Foundation. Kelly, in 2014, you were involved in a car accident? I was. Talk about the injuries. Well, I have a C7-T1 spinal cord injury. It's incomplete. So I have sensation. But I don't have any motor. So my accident was a rollover motor vehicle accident. I ran off the shoulder of the road, flipped my vehicle four times, and was hanging half in, half out of the vehicle, whenever, thank God, a retired paramedic was walking his dog down the street and saved my life. You know, we were talking right before we got on the air, and I asked Kelly about being a research participant and you're going to demonstrate something tonight, a very important movement that was not possible how long ago? Five years, this year. And by the way, Kelly's a part of... she's involved with epidural stimulation? Yes. And before I go back to how tough it was to make the decision to actually be a participant, explain to folks what epidural stimulation is. So what an epidural stimulator is, is it's a spinal implant, and the spinal electrode lays in my lower lumbar spine, and I have a battery that's actually implanted in my lower abdomen, my lower left abdomen, and it has all the data in it that has different configurations that helps me facilitate movement. So many people have this epidural stimulator. It's a Medtronic device, and people use it for pain all the time to block the signals of pain. And I use it for movement. How much has it changed your life? Dramatically. How so? Dramatically. Well I… whenever I suffered my spinal cord injury, I asked my neurosurgeon, eye to eye, I said, "What are my chances of ever walking again?" And he said, "I won't say zero, but maybe one or two percent." And I said, "Okay. I'll be your one or two percent." And I worked and worked..."