Spinal Cord Injury: Visualizing Recovery

Aaron Baker
Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
07/25/16  12:55 PM PST
Visualizing Recovery

Spinal Cord Injury and the Mind – Visualizing Recovery

When you take an athlete in the prime of his physical abilities and turn the physical switch off, what happens to the energy the body was so used to using and producing? Imagine a kink in a garden hose: the strong steady flow of water at the end of the hose is diminished to a trickle. This is similar to the interruption that happens to the brain/body connection after spinal cord injury.  The neuromuscular impulses from the brain to the muscular junction can only trickle through, or sometimes may not arrive at all.

Depending on the level of injury, the fracture may produce a quadriplegic, (me) affecting all four limbs, or paraplegic, affecting lower extremities only. Whatever level of injury, the energy flow through the body is not the same.

In my case the “hose” was kinked. After the injury, my body – a once well-oiled machine – now lay like stone on pressed sheets. My body lay still, but my mind, full of what I visualized as intense kinetic energy, surged light through my quiet shell.

Energy (definition): the capacity of a physical system to do work; the exertion of force. This definition holds true when a physical system works, but also when it doesn’t. From the very beginning of my recovery post-injury, I visualized colors of light filling my limbs. I visualized myself inside-out, every organ, bone, and muscle. I felt as if my body was producing far more energy than it ever did as a high level athlete, although it took months and years to slowly translate this mental energy into physical energy.

My friend Donovan (a C4 quadriplegic) is also a high level athlete. The amount of mental force that it takes for him to crank an arm cycle for 10 minutes might be equivalent to mental force that Lance Armstrong puts into his legs in the sprint to the finish line in a race. Hard to imagine, I know!

Now take that level of energy and mental force and transfer it into things like tying a shoe or buttoning a shirt. Imagine channeling all the energy your body uses as a whole, and putting that into a single simple physical chore or task. It is my belief that through consistent, dedicated, long-term exercise, I will turn my neuro-pathways into super neuro-highways. Mind, body, spirit: understand how these function separately and be willing to exert maximum mental force throughout recovery.

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