“You forgot how tall you are”: the paralyzed Humboldt Mustang can stand during physical therapy


Behind the mask, sweat gleamed on his forehead, and Ryan Strassnicki was smiling.

In 2018, a bus carrying the Humboldt Mustang Junior Hockey Team crashed. The 22-year-old was paralyzed from the chest down. This was another milestone in his long-term recovery.

He stood up.

He needs a walker to help him. His arms tremble with his efforts, but more than three years later, he sees the world from a different-higher-perspective.

“Sitting here, you kind of look up at everyone. You forgot how tall you are,” he said with a smile.

“I’m very happy…but still not satisfied. I know I still have a lot to give, and I know the next section will be harder. I am really ashamed to see my progress but I still have a lot of A long way to go.”

“Marathon, not sprint”

Straschnitzki has been working with a team at the Calgary Synaptic Neurorehabilitation Center. Two years ago, he implanted an epidural stimulator in his spine in Thailand. The device sends an electric current to his spinal cord to try to stimulate the nerves and move his limbs.

He has learned to program this device. This device looks like a calculator from a distance. Part of the physical therapy when he is standing requires him to lift his legs.

“This [stimulator] Help me move my legs and keep my balance. I have gotten used to it and used some programs that are best for certain actions. “

Straschnitsky hopes to one day play sled hockey for Canada at the Olympics. He said his next goal is to be able to walk a few steps.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint. We work very slowly here, but we have made good progress.”

Freely navigate his world

Synaptic Executive Director Uyen Nguyen said that Straschnitzki has been working hard since returning from Thailand. She said that standing up is an important step forward.

“He didn’t realize what it meant,” she said. “Being able to do this by himself gives him more independence and freedom to control his world.”

Straschnitzki said that although he is satisfied with his progress, he still has a long way to go. (Canada Media/Jeff McIntosh)

Nguyen said that Straschnitzki may step on the scene at some point, but the key is to make enough progress to make him emotional.

“For those of us who don’t live in that space, we forget the feeling of being as tall as we are, or being able to see the world from a very different perspective,” she said.

“For Ryan, being able to stand up and hold this view on his own is a huge improvement both mentally and emotionally for him.”

‘It’s outstanding’

Straschnitzki did not tell his parents what he did. They discovered it when he saw a short video posted on Twitter earlier this month.

Tom Straschnitzki said his son thought it was not worth mentioning.

“I said,’Wow, buddy! That’s a big deal. You did it yourself,” he said. “He thought it was no big deal.’This is what we did,’ he said.

Michel Straschnitsky was very excited.

“It was very surprising and exciting. I was shocked more than anything else.

“Quite outstanding.”





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