Zachary, to start with, maybe you could tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Before the treatment, I had very little arm movement, no triceps, just really my forearms and biceps. I also had very little ab control, I didn't have good sitting balance or just good arm moving. I mean, I can be in a manual chair, it's just a lot of work on my shoulders, just because I don't have much strength.
Could you help us understand the timeline of your stay and how quickly did you start to notice changes?
The stay was incredible, they are the nicest people there. It's so different from America, on the healthcare side, that was probably the nicest stay I've had since I was hurt, and I've been to a lot of hospitals. So that part of it was great. And then I just started seeing really fast progress in my lower extremities. I was on a couple of medicines for spasms and spasticity and stuff like that but I got off them and that's when I really started seeing changes in my legs and having a lot more control over knowing when I can pull my ankle up and lift my leg up. It was just wild to me, it was crazy. I didn't know it was going to work like that!
Could you tell us a bit about what a typical day looks like?
We would get up in the mornings, me and my dad, and I would either get a bed bath or shower, eat breakfast, and then we would go straight into physical therapy. From physical therapy, we would go to mapping, which felt just like physical therapy to me because you work just as hard. I would usually map for two hours, take lunch for an hour, and then go back and map for the last half of the day. I promise you by the time you're done, you're ready for a break! I thought I was in shape before I came over but I left in shape!
What does your physical therapy routine look like now you are home after your treatment? Are you back in the gym?
I was telling everybody “I haven’t walked in 2 years, there's no way in 35 days they're gonna give me everything I need to walk” but I got everything I need to walk so now I just need to build it up stronger. That's what is pretty exciting to me - eventually, one day, if you push hard enough and keep at it every day, you're going to be able to walk because it's moving all the muscle groups that need to be moved.
Please could you maybe describe to us what functions you have regained since the treatment?
Did you have concerns about coming to Thailand? And what do you feel now?
I guess some people think that is sketchy. But I will say anybody else that's paralyzed that sees this will completely agree with me - anything is worth it to get any type of recovery. If there's people succeeding from it then, heck yeah, I'm all in! I watched a lot of the videos before I made up my mind and I talked to another patient. When we talked about it, I already kind of had my mind made up about coming anyway, just because I knew this would be the best shot at getting independence and getting as much function back as I possibly could.
Once we got there, it was not just in the facility, but outside the facility too, everybody was really polite, always giving, and always had a helping hand. So that was very nice - people are very generous and friendly over there, compared to back here in the States. The quality of the stay was amazing. There were nurses coming in every 30 minutes, at least, to make sure I was okay, to check on me, to bring me something. It wasn't like you had to call to ask for something, there was always somebody there. That's pretty relevant after you have surgery and when you're in the hospital laid up for a couple of days. So I liked that a lot but it was all great. It all worked out well. I mean, of course, there's a little bit of pain along the way but nothing you can't tolerate.