C5 spinal cord injury is the most common occurance of SCI, with 50% affecting the cervical level generally. Therefore, we treat many patients with injury at the cervical level, who are experiencing quadraplegia. Kamron is one such patient. His injury was so severe that he is also one of the few patients who have received a double spinal cord stimulator implant. One stimulator sits at the cervical level, to support the return of upper body function, and the other at the lumbar level for lower body function. Kamron joined one of our Q & A sessions in 2021, talking with our Medical Director Dr Nasir Majeed about the function he has regained, his experience with Verita Neuro in Mexico and what motivates him.
Kamron, can you introduce yourself please?
I’m 22 years old, from the United States. I was injured in 2020, and have C5 spinal cord injury, so I’m quadriplegic. I am currently living in Texas but I’m receiving treatment and Guadalajara Mexico. I received both upper and lower epidural stimulators at the same time and so far it’s been fantastic.
What are the benefits you have seen?
My upper body function, they’ve mapped it out so that I’ve regained the ability to work out to do actual workouts, you know, functional workouts with my legs, triceps deltoids lower back, upper back and abdomen. So as far as my upper body has been great for us processes, man it’s been mind blowing it’s been it’s a completely it completely changed my life. I had bad spasticity before my epidural stimulation treatment and I had a baclofen pump to control it a little bit. After the treatment, it hasn’t affected me at all. I’m actually slowly reducing my baclofen and am looking to get the pump removed, because I’m more in control over my spasms now.
What was your condition like before your treatment?
In the last one year, before the treatment, after the injury it was really slow – very, very slow. I’ve essentially gotten to where I can use my shoulders, you know, for range of motion of my shoulders. And that was kind of it! I would go to physio every day, an hour a day, every day, outpatient therapy for two hours a day, three times a week. And I was getting a little stronger with the abdomen and stuff here and there. But as far as mobility, I had zero. Immediately after my injury, I had no neck movement or anything.
But everything started to turn around when I come here, and it was just it was overnight. My entire life changed. In a few days within the first week, I was moving more than I had in the past year.
How did you feel before the surgery and what changes did you see early on?
I understood very well everything the expectation then what I would feel and whatever I should expect in the following days. It was there, it was all very clear. They made it very easy. There was no side effects thankfully. I’ve seen a lot I think go on, like a big change in my frame. I put a lot of muscle on, so the bone structure looks different because the of muscle. There’s also just a lot of movement, a lot of leg movement, fingers, abdomen, arms. I could go on with as far as what’s happened within the past few days, there’s so many things, good things, you know, everyday was good, everyday was great, because there was always a new muscle we worked on or we found something new.
Are you happy with the changes you’ve seen?
So as far as from when we started to now, it blew my expectations – way, way better than I expected. Before the treatment, I couldn’t move my arms at all and now I’m able to do full tricep extensions, know to pinch, grab bowls, or cups. And while standing, I’m able to take steps, you know, I’m able to sit in my chair and kick my legs out in front of me, like leg extensions. I can bench press individually, there’s just so many movements that I can do now that were impossible for because all I had was just shoulders and barely that! And now I have all these different muscles. Leg extensions have been a really big thing for me, you know, being able to kick my legs up on command has been a really big thing for me. It’s really, really cool.
One thing I was really excited about is about 20 days after the placement of the stimulators, I noticed that when my stimulators were off, I had more voluntary movement. Without the stimulators on at all, I have more tricep movement, when I had zero before and now I can move them with the stimulators off. And so far, everything has been great. We’re on the path of trying to target and get everything functional. But every muscle works, we have every muscle firing, it’s just a matter of mapping it and getting it functional. But we found every muscle in my body needed to perform the functions.
What are your goals? Eventually, where do you see yourself?
I mean, the sky’s the limit for me. I think self-transfer, driving, feeding myself, getting dressed, bathing, you know, stuff like that. I think that I can take what I have right now and with time, turn, it into something really big. And especially with the team, the team here is great. Everybody’s really professional and just amazing. The whole team is amazing. The mappers and therapists, the doctors, they’re all just amazing.
Other than motor function, what changes have you seen?
Blood pressure – I’ve noticed a pretty big difference in that and sweating. I didn’t sweat before my surgery. And now I’m sweating all the time. In the gym, you know, I’m sweating a lot out there, I got about 40 or 50% of my ability to sweat back. Which is amazing because now I can go outside and enjoy the weather. When it’s hot outside instead of having to go inside and cool off and go back out. It’s been really nice. That’s been the biggest, I think, is my ability to sweat. Because I’m on hot days, I’m not so hot anymore. I don’t overheat or anything anymore because I’m able to release the heat. It’s changed my life tremendously, because I live in Southeast Texas, and it’s always a very, very hot so, during the summer, I could barely enjoy a day out. But now it will be a lot different for me. So that alone has changed my life, not including everything else, I just shared.
The spinal cord, it’s a weird thing. It takes time and hard work. And I believe that you’ll get out what you put in – you have to work for it. There’s no way around that. It just takes time, slow process, you have to be patient. And you have to have the grit, you have to build a workforce.
I have noticed a little more sensation not in different areas in the same areas that I had sensation, it’s just a lot stronger. I have full sensation of my entire back, not 100% sensation, but I can feel my entire back down to my elbows on both sides and it’s really weird, but in some spots of my right leg. For bladder, bowel function, I think it’s a little too early to tell. Before my injury, I’ve always been able to fill my bladder. So it’s kind of hard to tell whether or not it’s improved.
And were you able to get bicep function back?
Yes, I was able to get bicep function back but it’s very weak. My biceps are really weak and my triceps are really dominant. So my triceps are really extremely strong. Right away. The day after we started mapping I believe I started getting my tricep function back and they’ve just been growing and growing and growing. And so it’s been a process of getting my biceps stronger. Without the tricep over-riding it. It’s a little too weak right now to be functional but we did find it and it is good. My fingers are moving now, but before the treatment, there was nothing below the shoulders. And now, I can open and close clamps and grab a hold of things, and release things and stuff like that.
How do you motivate yourself?
I mean, it’s just something you have to do you know, and I have, like I said before, I’m a man of faith. So, you know, Jesus Christ alone motivates me. I don’t need my alarm clock to wake me up, if you want something bad enough, you don’t need an alarm clock. I mean, when your backs against the wall, the only way to go is forward. I think you’ve just gotta find the grit and find something to lean on and find something to fight for. That’s what you do it for. You know, you don’t know for myself, I do it for those that helped me, that inspire me. And I put a lot of my faith in Jesus Christ. So that’s what motivates me.
How is the experience of treatment?
The accommodation is wonderful, the place is beautiful. It’s just been a great experience. For me, it’s like a vacation. The rooms are really good, the hotels extremely nice, the people are very nice. And everything that you need is right here or walking distance. So I think that’s really important. But there’s so much help from the team. You don’t go without anything. All your questions are answered. There’s lots of red tape around this treatment in the US. And I was a bit skeptical about the location. But man, this was the best decision I’ve ever made. I love this place. Great location, the people, everything’s just wonderful. The whole thing has just been like a vacation.
Do you have a message for others considering the treatment?
Yes. If you can get it, then get it! And just grind, pray, repeat. You’ve got to get up every morning and just work. I mean, like I said, when your back is against the wall the only way to go is forward. I don’t know what the future holds. But I think it’s bright, you know, I mean, I’m a man of faith. So, with God and my family and my community in my corner, I don’t think that there’s anything that can stop me, I believe the sky’s the limit for me. So keep pushing you guys and family and friends. That’s my message, you’re going to get out what you put in. You’ve got to work for it. Work, time and patience.
The above is not a verbatim transcript of Kamron’s interview with Dr Nasir. Some comments have been slightly altered or re-arranged in order to improve the reading flow. If you would like to hear the full webinar, you can view it on Youtube.