Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Story from the Frontiers of Medicine

I came across a story recently I thought I'd share. Fourteen years ago, a Canadian named John Bannon suffered an all-too-familiar accident/injury. He fell into a shallow swimming pool and struck the bottom. Before he could even float to the surface he was so completely debilitated, he couldn't move his arms or legs or even a draw breath.

His friend, a former ambulance driver, saw what happened and went in after him, fighting off all the others who, naturally, wanted to drag their friend out of the pool. It was a good thing too, John Bannon had severely injured his upper spinal cord. Moving him at all might have made his situation even worse.

Many months of physical therapy followed during which he managed to regain the ability to stand and breathe on his own as well as the use of his arms. His condition pretty much stabilized and another dozen years went by.

Earlier this year he was offered the chance to participate in a study for a new drug called Fampridine which is designed to allow signals from the brain to cross injured areas in the spinal cord.

Mr. Bannon responded so well to the new therapy that this spring he attended his daughter's wedding and walked with her down the aisle.

[Fampridine is nearing the final stages of FDA approval and is eagerly anticipated by people with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. It seems to act by transforming scar tissue which forms around damaged nerves into a bridge for signals to bypass the site of the injury.]


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful thing! I am constantly amazed at the human body and its interaction with its environment. When it is so badly broken that it should quit, it heals. When the injury is so minor it should almost be overlooked...and the results are devestating. But, never underestimate the power of the human spirit!!!!

shiloh said...

That's good news for people in that situation.

Back to the swimming pool accident though. How did they keep him alive if he couldn't breath and they didn't move him? I'm just curious because part of my training to become a master diver was rescue. We learned to give artificial respiration while still in the water.

Anonymous said...

The way I picture it, they kept him immobilized and alive with rescue breathing until the medics arrived with a collar and board. It was a wet ride back for the EMTs, though.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...