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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

A Walk to Remember

Published March 24, 2011 10:34 AM by Danielle Bullen
Physical therapists face many challenges every day. No matter how good the intentions or the treatment, some patients simply don't make a full recovery. So, when you hear about someone who thrives in the face of adversity, it makes all the challenges worthwhile.

One such survivor is Jennifer Darmon, a young woman from Ontario who suffered a spinal cord injury at the L1 vertebrae level in a car accident, leaving her paralyzed. Doctors told her she would need a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Darmon, who is engaged to be married in April 2011, had one goal: walk down the aisle on her wedding day. And with the help of the physical therapists at Detroit's Rehabilitation Institute of Medicine, she's working to achieve that dream. The Detroit Rehabilitation Institute of Medicine has a long history of treating patients with spinal cord injuries. It houses the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery, the first hospital-based program to provide long-term, activity-based care to people who suffer spinal cord injuries. Physical therapists use equipment like body weight-supported treadmills, whole-body vibration machines, lower-body ergometers and functional electrical stimulation systems to help make the seemingly impossible possible.

Darmon was fitted with carbon-fiber leg braces that help her move. The brace locks and supports her knees. She still has control over her abdominal muscles and works out three times per week with trainers to strengthen them. That control gives her an advantage over other people with paraplegia since she can use her core to move her hips and position her legs. With assistance from people, crutches or parallel bars, she can stand and walk. On her wedding day, her father and brother will guide her down the 40-foot aisle towards her fiancé.

Follow' Darmon's remarkable recovery here.


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