Mother Finds that Miracles Happen at Frazier Rehab For Her Daughter Who Had a Spinal Cord Stroke
On July 4, 2009, Shanta Stell’s 11-year-old daughter, Jalen, was getting her hair braided when she began to have pain in her neck. Suddenly, she couldn’t raise her arms. Alarmed and crying, they made their way to their car where Jalen collapsed. At the hospital they discovered that she had suffered a cervical (C2 to C5) spinal cord stroke.
When Jalen came to Frazier Rehab Institute four days later, her whole left side was affected. “She couldn’t walk, she couldn’t move her left arm at all; she couldn’t bend her toes; she couldn’t move her fingers on her left sides,” explains Shanta. “When we got to Frazier—miracles. Within weeks, she went from the wheelchair, to the walker, to nothing”
Jalen ended her inpatient stay at Frazier Rehab on August 13, 2009, but continues outpatient therapy to this day. She is able to take advantage of state-of-the-art equipment at Frazier, namely the MIT-Manus robotic arm, which helps patients who have had strokes or other neurological events. Frazier is one of only a very few facilities in the United States that has this technology. While seated at a table, the patient is able to view a computer screen and the robotic arm assists the patient’s affected arm to engage in a program which is set up like a video game.
“The robot can sense Jalen’s movement,” says occupational therapist Reena Shara. “As long as Jalen completes the task properly, the robot will not help her. But when she has weakness or spasticity, the robot will guide Jalen’s arm into the proper motion. Every 80 repetitions the robot will give her a score which shows how much work she is doing herself.”
Jalen’s mother has seen progress since Jalen has been receiving the robotic arm therapy. “Since she has been using the robotic arm, I have noticed that she can fix her own food; she makes her own bed now; she picks up after herself; she’s starting to comb her hair by herself again; I really have noticed at home the difference the robotic arm is making,” says Shanta.
In addition to occupational therapy, Jalen is a member of Frazier’s Community Fitness and Wellness program where she comes to exercise twice a week. The Community Fitness and Wellness facility operates like any other gym, but has specially trained staff and accessible cardiovascular and weight training equipment. Jalen’s goal is to strengthen her core muscles and her legs.
“I’m doing better now,” says Jalen. “I’m doing way better, and Frazier’s great and I’m thankful for everybody at Frazier.”