Jul 19, 2010 10:25 PM by Andy Koen

Restoring muscle movement with "Superman's" bike

When 19 years old Chris Dana suffered a partial spinal chord injury last summer, he lost almost all feeling below the waist.  These days during his physical therapy sessions at Penrose Hospital, Chris is pedaling on his own free will using the Ergys 2 therapeutic bike.

Dr. Glen House, Director of Rehabilitation at Penrose Hospital says the machine shocks the muscle causing it to contract and that those contractions are coordinated to create a pedaling motion.

But more than that, House says combining that muscle stimulation with an activity like riding treats both body and brain.

"The brain and the spinal chord have an ability to regenerate for a part, to take over a part, for a motion that it didn't used to do before or to go around a damaged area."

Nicknamed "Superman's bike," the machine was frequently used by actor Christopher Reeve.  Doctor House says riding gives patients a huge psychological boost.

"To really feel that for the first time, to get out there and pedal and get on a bike and pedal for 20 minutes is incredible for the psyche."

Penrose is the first hospital in Southern Colorado to use the Ergys in therapy.  The just recieved the bike last week.  Still, doctors here see it as a central piece of their new Activity Based Rehabilitation Program.

"Instead of just doing what they can do on the mat, we can now start to advance the recovery that they're going to get," Dr. House explains.

That means patients like Chris can confidently put their best foot forward in therapy.

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