Unlocking the Potential to Move
Nothing is going to slow Mackenzie down. She’s 11 and she’s got a million things to do. There’s school, where she’s an “A” student with an interest in science, and Girl Scouts, where she recently earned badges in Cooking and Camping. And every day after school, but before she can talk on the phone, Mackenzie exercises her legs on the Functional Electric Stimulation (FES) bike her parents purchased for her to use in their Virginia home.
This regimen is part of the Advanced Restoration Therapies Mackenzie began at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger, during a three-month stay that followed an accident in which Mackenzie’s spinal cord was injured and her legs paralyzed. The FES bike sends electrical impulses directly to Mackenzie’s leg muscles, in lieu of those that her brain sends but which can no longer be received because of the spinal cord injury. These impulses stimulate Mackenzie’s legs to pedal the bike and this has led to a restoration of sensation and to improved general health and well-being for Mackenzie.
The benefits Mackenzie has gained from therapy on the FES bike have strengthened her resolve that nothing can stop her from achieving her goals. Mackenzie has always wanted to be a veterinarian. During a recent quest for a new Girl Scout Careers badge, she visited her cat Roxie’s doctor and got encouraging affirmation. When Mackenzie asked him what he thought about her chances of becoming a veternarian, given her disability, he replied: “I believe you can definitely do it... If you stay strong and work hard, you’ll be examining lots of Roxies someday!