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Four Years After Being Told He Would Never Walk Again, Man Completes 1 Mile Race

Update Date: Feb 27, 2013 02:32 PM EST
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Four years after being told that he would never walk again, Rick Constantine is walking again for the first time. Mr. Constantine was involved in a car accident that triggered a stroke in the brain stem which, in turn, caused paralysis on the right side of his body. His leg muscles were so spastic that he was unable to walk. However, nearly five years after his grim prognosis, doctors from the University of California, San Diego Health System have gotten him on his feet again.

"After my injury, I was told I would never walk again. All I could to was move from my wheelchair to my bed or a chair," Constantine, a former NASCAR crew member, said in a statement. "After surgery with Dr. Brown, I could put my foot flat on the ground to walk. With physical therapy, everything just gets better and better. I'm a firm believer in never giving up."

Over the course of Mr. Constantine's paralysis, he had undergone Botox treatments and physical therapy in an attempt to help him walk once more. The efforts had positive results, but the success was minimal.

He found help in the form of a surgery called a selective peripheral neurotomy performed by Dr. Justin Brown. The surgery targets the troublesome nerves. The doctor cut behind the knee to reach the tibial nerve. Then he trims selectively the nerves that are causing trouble in a surgery that amounts to just three hours. This technique allows for the reduction of "noise" to the spinal cord. The procedure is uncommon in the United States, but is performed relatively more often in Japan and France.

The treatment was an immediate success. Performed successfully, people can begin physical rehabilitation in just three days.

"When all other options did not produce satisfying results, we opted for surgery," Dr. Brown stated. "With the EMG, we identified the over-excited nerves that needed to be downgraded. Mr. Constantine had surgery on a Friday and within days was in physical rehabilitation. Two weeks later he was walking without a walker and has even completed a 1-mile race without assistance."

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