Spinal Cord Injury Community

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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  1. James
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 1:44 am PST

    Hi? My name is james Iam suffering from spinal cord injury since 4 years no improvement yet.now im 22 just want to ask you that do u think by visualization I can regain my movement and sensation? If yes please let me know how many hours/min in a day?usually I do for 1 hour since November 1st 2017 And you were complete/incomplete? And when did u first able to move your body parts after injury? What came first sensation or movement?one more thing, as when I start to visualize that iam healed and my body is completely healed . I start to feel warmness in my legs every time I start to visualize.my question is that do u thing its a good symptoms or bad? Please reply thanks

  2. Aaron Baker
    Posted January 26, 2018 at 1:47 pm PST

    Hello James,

    Visualization is a technique that works well for me. (Funny story) My sister painted my toes rainbow colors with her nail polish while I laid paralyzed in the hospital. I would stare at my left big blue toe and my right red toe and imagine colors of energetic light traveling through my body, from my brain, down through my spinal cord, down my legs and into my toes. My colorful toenails became a tangible target for me to focus my mind on. I would do this many times throughout the day and night… I still do!

    To answer your second question: I was initially diagnosed as a complete quadriplegic with a one-in-a-million chance of recovering movement below my level of injury (Cervical-4,5,6). Eighteen years later, I am now an incomplete, recovering quadriplegic.

    Third: Within the first six months to a year I began flickering my toes and experiencing trace motor-function.

    Fourth: I am not a doctor so I cannot tell you if what you are experiencing is a good or bad thing. But I can say that personally, anytime I experience change in my body due to my own focused, willed intention (visualization) I think of it as a good thing because I am reconnecting my mind to my body and becoming more self-aware.

    Keep Rising!


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