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Health Team

Paralyzed woman works to lift others with spinal cord injuries

Posted October 12, 2011 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2011 6:32 p.m. EDT

— When a spinal cord injury leaves someone paralyzed, it changes his or her life forever. The person often becomes isolated and loses hope of improving his or her condition.

Debbie Myers fell off the roof of her Kerr Lake home in September 2001. Although the accident left her paralyzed, she never gave up on getting back on her feet.

"This year was my 10-year anniversary of my accident, and with a milestone birthday coming, I wanted to see where I was at," Myers, 49, said while testing herself at WakeMed's spinal cord injury rehab program.

"I have full leg braces. I don't have enough muscle around my knees or anything to hold myself up by myself. I can't bend my knee," she said.

Physical therapist Cheryl Bennett helped Myers learn to use the muscles that she can control so she could begin to make baby steps on a walker.

"(I'm) learning to trust my legs a little bit more and not put so much weight on my arms (and) learning to work my core better – more – and keep my hips in," Myers said.

She's been on the walker before, staying up as long as 5½ minutes and walking 70 feet.

Her father finally got to see her use the walker.

"I said, 'Come to Daddy,' and that was like when she was almost a year old," Bob Myers said. "Now that she's almost 50, she's walking to me again. That's pretty cool.

"She's done amazing things, and she's made us very proud," he said. "I've always been proud of her."

He said he is also proud of her work to help start the North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association to bring others like herself out of isolation. The group offers peer mentoring, involvement in adaptive sports and inspiration to rediscover a productive life.

Debbie Myers said she has her eye on advancements in technology that she may one day use.

"Bionics, e-legs and electrical stimulation implants and different things like that," she said. "There's a lot of cool things going on."

The Spinal Injury Association will host a wine event at the Angus Barn Pavilion from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, with proceeds to benefit patients.