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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Sports coach motivated by small gains one year after spinal cord injury

June 26, 2018

We first introduced you to Chad Fuller last year. The the David City, Nebraska, man was celebrating with family and friends July 8, 2017 at a nearby lake when he suffered a spinal cord injury, resulting in paralysis in his arms and legs. One year later,  Chad continues to make gains. The sports coach and former athlete is taking lessons out of his own playbook and applying them as he works hard to achieve goals in Madonna’s outpatient therapy.

"My accident happened in water and this is the time of year I would always be out at the lake and I miss that a lot, but you find new things to get you through the day and motivate you," said Chad Fuller, a spinal cord injury survivor.

This day Chad Fuller is motivated by the core strength he’s gained through pool therapy. This after a July 8, 2017 water accident resulted in a spinal cord injury. Initially unable to move his arms and legs; in January Chad started regaining movement beginning with his left thumb. Soon after … 

"I was able to move my toes, my ankle and my foot so within a 12-hour period, I was able to move two different parts of my body, which I never thought I’d be able to do again," said Chad.

Since February, Chad has been working hard a few times each week during outpatient therapy at Madonna’s Lincoln Campus to reach his goals.

"My two goals are to feed myself with my left hand and to drive my own wheelchair with my hand so I don’t have to use my head all the time," said Chad. 

Electronic stimulation is helping Chad re-engage his muscles. Through the help of other specialized technology like the Lokomat he’s also working gait retraining and increasing stamina.

"The first time I did it I could walk on the Lokomat for 11 minutes and we were excited. Now I can walk on the Lokomat for 30 minutes without any problem and so that's really helped and I can tell my legs have gotten stronger from the therapy," said Chad. 

"The old coach and athlete in me expects to see results faster than what I’m seeing but when you consider how many months I had no movement and how fast muscle atrophy and that kind of thing, I’m confident it will come,” said Chad. 

Chad says looking back on the past year, the experience, while bittersweet, continues to drive him to make a difference.

"I’ve had such a positive experience with Madonna and I know it can be pretty scary when people come here and maybe not everyone has the family support that I was able to have when I was here so if I can give back a little bit and help people go through their process I’m excited to do that." said Chad.

Learn more about Madonna's unique spinal cord injury program.