Injured Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki continues rehab during COVID-19 lockdown

5 months ago 24
google news

At first glance it appears that Ryan Straschnitzki, the former Humboldt Broncos hockey player paralyzed from the chest down two years ago in a Saskatchewan bus crash, is paying close attention to the black smartphone in his hand.

But on closer inspection, it’s actually the remote controller for the epidural stimulator he had implanted during spinal surgery in Thailand last fall.

1:51 Humboldt Broncos’ Ryan Straschnitzki undergoes life-changing surgery in Thailand

Humboldt Broncos’ Ryan Straschnitzki undergoes life-changing surgery in Thailand

The device sends electrical currents to his spinal cord to stimulate nerves and move limbs. On the urging of his physiotherapy team, Straschnitzki can kick out his legs – first the left and then the right.

Story continues below advertisement

He has had a lot of time to practise with the device while confined to his home in Airdrie, north of Calgary, during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“It’s still a work in progress but it’s getting better than it was,” Straschnitzki says.

2:10 Humboldt crash survivor takes his first steps after surgery

Humboldt crash survivor takes his first steps after surgery

Straschnitzki, 21, was hurt when a semi-trailer and the Broncos team bus collided at a rural intersection in Saskatchewan in April 2018. Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured. The truck driver pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Story continues below advertisement

Since the crash, Straschnitzki has made it his goal to make the national sledge team and eventually represent Canada at the Olympics. He was scheduled to be a member of Team Alberta at the national championships this spring.

1:50 Injured Bronco Ryan Straschnitzki teaches lessons on and off the ice

Injured Bronco Ryan Straschnitzki teaches lessons on and off the ice

That was before the pandemic hit.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“Not being on the ice for four months now is the hardest part for me. That was my escape and I used that for everything,” he says.

“The physical activity was a place to stress relieve, so it’s been tough and I’m just waiting for the rinks to open again.”

Straschnitzki says fortunately the epidural stimulator is mostly about muscle memory and all the programs he used before the pandemic are still intact.

Story continues below advertisement

He’s hoping to improve his range of motion throughout the summer.

2:02 Ryan Straschnitzki back in Canada after Thailand trip

Ryan Straschnitzki back in Canada after Thailand trip

“I want to get stronger, get more muscle contractions throughout my whole body and hopefully get more muscles moving that weren’t moving before,” he says.

Uyen Nguyen, executive director of the Synaptic Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Calgary, says the time away hasn’t hurt Straschnitzki’s recovery.

“I think Ryan has done a lot on his own to maintain what he had gained when he was back and I’m hoping this will just be a slight bump in the road and he’ll be able to continue on without too much regression at all with his therapy,” she says.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think Ryan has done a great job in maintaining all his gains that it was just a few days of hurt and he’s back and ready to go.”

2:40 Ryan Straschnitzki calls returning to the ice a ‘happy feeling’

Ryan Straschnitzki calls returning to the ice a ‘happy feeling’

© 2020 The Canadian Press

  1. Homepage
  2. Health