his accident, Christopher Reeve has worked tirelessly to bring
funding and recognition to a host of spinal cord research
projects. He has detailed his experiences and his "realistic
optimism" that a cure is on the horizon in a book titled Still
Me. Alan Alda met with Reeve recently at home in Westchester
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Believe it or not, it's a bicycle. It was given to me by a
company called Electrologic of America. You sit in the seat
wearing spandex shorts that have electrodes in them.
Now does the electrical impulse make your leg move forward
and drive the pedal?
If insurance companies would pay for this, you'd see
people getting more recovery quickly.
Exactly. The electrodes stimulate the thigh muscles and the
quads to make you ride the bike. I started out only being
able to do about 3-5 minutes before the muscles would fatigue.
Now, I can do up to about a half-hour.
AA: Is there something about moving the pedals that's important
as therapy… it goes beyond just stimulating the muscles, right?
Right. One of the keys for anybody who's paralyzed is achieving
motion, because this is important to circulation, muscle tone,
bone density and cardiovascular work. This bike particularly
helps to get rid of unwanted bone growth in the hips and also
gets your heart rate up. It's considered experimental. Nonsense.
This is really essential and everybody should have it. It's
quite expensive because there's only a small market for it.
lobbies insurance companies to cover exercise equipment
for the paralyzed.
Ironically, if more people had it it'd be cheaper and more
people could afford it.
CR: Exactly. Right. If insurance companies would pay for this,
you'd see people getting more recovery quickly (Read
about Jen Penko's experience with this issue). You see,
even a small amount of recovery makes a big difference. For
example, if and when I get off the hose [ventilator], I will
no longer need around the clock nursing, and that'll save
my insurance company a fortune. Right now, it costs about
$400,000 a year, so they wouldn't have to pay that.
The tilt table has a kind of an additional psychological value
for you, I think, social value.
It reminds me I'm 6'4".
Seeing the world from another couple of feet up must be an
It's a very important thing, now and then, to be reminded
that I'm really tall.
Your son gets to see you standing.
Right. It reminds him to look up to me.
I bet he doesn't have a problem with that.
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