Paralyzed Humboldt Bronco Moves Legs After Experimental Surgery

Pipella Law

November 11, 2019

On April 6th 2018, 16 people were killed and 13 were injured when a coach bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos minor hockey team collided with a semi-truck trailer near Armley, Saskatchewan. Ryan Straschnitzki was one of those injured in the collision—paralyzed from the chest down, he was told he’d never walk again.

Thanks to experimental spinal surgery, the now 20-year-old from Airdrie, Alberta has begun moving his legs.

Revolutionary Implant Supports Recovery

The improvement in Ryan’s condition is due to an epidural stimulator implanted in his spine. According to CBC News, “(w)ith the use of a small device like a remote control, the implant sends electrical currents to the spinal cord to stimulate nerves and move his limbs, bypassing traditional pathways. The implant can be programmed to stimulate certain nerves mapped out by surgeons and therapists.

Progress Shocks Family

Because of the experimental nature of the surgery, Ryan and his family were unsure of what results to expect—however, his progress has exceeded all expectations. Within days of receiving his implant, Ryan nearly kicked his therapist by mistake, and was eagerly asking his doctors if he was able to hit the gym.

While the initial post-surgery results were surprising, there’s room for growth—over the next few months, as Ryan works with rehabilitation specialists and his implant is fine-tuned, there’s likely to be more improvement. According to Dr. Aaron Phillips, a University of Calgary professor, “(Ryan will) be able to start moving limbs below his injury site better and better and better. Where his ceiling will get, we don’t know. It’s not typically a therapy that will [lead to] walking again, but they will have improved motor function in almost all cases.”

The staff at Pipella wishes Ryan all the best, and hope that the groundbreaking work being done by his doctors will one day be available for all people affected by spinal injuries.

If you have suffered a personal injury, contact the personal injury lawyers at Pipella Law today to learn how they can help you recover from this traumatic experience.