Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Spotlight
September 2012 Spotlight: Stephanie Orosco
1. Where were you employed before your spinal cord injury? What were your interests?
I was attending my first year of college at Fresno State University and working part time as a shift manager at Jamba Juice. I loved to dance and used to be a competitive cheerleader. The year before I got hurt my cheer squad took first at nationals.
2. How were you injured? What was your initial prognosis?
On June 13, 2008, I was a passenger in a rollover automobile accident and suffered a T12, L1 spinal cord injury. I was told that I would never walk again and had a 20% chance of feeling anything ever again. A very special inpatient physical therapist at the hospital told me that I would be ok, and that gave me hope.
3. How did you hear about Project Walk?
I was originally planning on going to China for a stem cell procedure when I heard about Project Walk from another client that I met at school, and instantly started researching it. I was blown away from what I found and knew that it was right for me.
4. What makes Project Walk so special and how has Project Walk changed your life?
I taught myself how to walk and have picked up so many bad habits over the years from having to compensate so much. On my first day at Project Walk, my Lead Specialist, Ryan, told me to take off my AFO leg braces, and I haven’t worn them since then! My trainers have taught me the correct way to walk and have been helping me break my bad habits of compensating, as well as continuing to strengthen weak muscles. I am now more aware of my body, what it is doing, and what I am feeling. Although I was already walking on forearm crutches before I came to Project Walk, my trainers have helped me get to a point where walking is more efficient, much easier, and we are continuing to find new muscle movements. Project Walk is so special because they help clients do things that they were told were not possible. The trainers are committed and genuinely want to make a difference in our lives. I love my team! Project Walk is a wonderful community for anyone who has experienced a spinal cord injury.
5. What are your goals?
Although my goal is to ultimately walk again without any assistance, I am in a good place and know that it is ok if I need some help. My goals for the next few months are to strengthen my hamstrings, glutes, hip abductors, and I am really hoping for some ankle movement
6. What advice would you give to prospective clients?
There is always hope! Realize that you can’t change what happened to you, but you can prove the prognosis wrong. The road to recovery is long, but so worth it. With hope, hard work, and a-never-give-up-attitude, you can achieve things never thought possible!
7. Stephanie’s progress since coming to Project Walk.
Stephanie’s Team of Specialists: Ryan Carpenter, Genny Kroll-Rosen, and Steve Waite
When Stephanie first walked through the doors in August of 2011, she used crutches and AFO’s and had a very inefficient gait pattern. Stephanie was so determined to get out of the wheelchair that she self-taught herself how to walk again, but kept her crutches behind her. Stephanie’s journey with Project Walk began with a five week trial period where we focused on her walking techniques with the crutches, strengthening her abdominals, low back, hips, and her lower extremities. In her short stay, she was able to conceptualize the inefficiency in her walking and started to adjust her crutch placement.
Stephanie went home to Fresno for only a month before making the move to Carlsbad; dedicating a year of her young life to her recovery and has since extended that stay even further. Stephanie attends Project Walk 3 days a week for 2 hour sessions and has seen remarkable progress in strength and the ease of her walking. Stephanie works with three specialists to cohesively strengthen her trunk musculature, lower extremities, along with increasing her balance, stamina, and coordination to help her achieve a better gait. Quite often during her session, Stephanie surprises herself with her own strength and shakes her “fun bun” on her head with excitement. She is a model client due to her consistency, open mindedness, and tenacity. She has seen great progress lately, specifically in the strength and functionality of her hamstrings, as well as her balance. It is a pleasure for us to take part in her progress and witness her first deadlifts and unassisted steps. She can now walk over 40 feet without the use of any assistance, making her goals of becoming less dependent on her crutches, a reality.
Not only has Stephanie improved her strength and gait, she has become more independent in all aspects of her life. She enjoys kayaking without any assistive devices and swimming in the ocean. Stephanie has also excelled in her college classes. Her smile, drive, and determination motivate and inspire other Project Walk clients and staff. Although bittersweet, Stephanie will end her stay with Project Walk at the end of the year and we have no doubt that she will continue to progress with the skills and tools she has learned.