In this file photo physiotherapists help Ryan Straschnitzki perform standing exercises following his epidural implant surgery at World Health Hospital in Nonthaburi, Thailand on Dec. 6, 2019. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

‘A work in progress’: Injured Broncos player continues rehab after lockdown

Ryan Straschnitzki waits for rinks to reopen

CALGARY — At first glance it appears that Ryan Straschnitzki, the former Humboldt Broncos hockey player paralyzed from the chest down two years ago in a Saskatchewan bus crash, is paying close attention to the black smartphone in his hand.

But on closer inspection it’s actually the remote controller for the epidural stimulator he had implanted during spinal surgery in Thailand last fall.

The device sends electrical currents to his spinal cord to stimulate nerves and move limbs. On the urging of his physiotherapy team Straschnitzki can kick out his legs — first the left and then the right.

He has had a lot of time to practise with the device while confined to his home in Airdrie, north of Calgary, during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“It’s still a work in progress but it’s getting better than it was,” Straschnitzki says.

Straschnitzki, 21, was hurt when a semi-trailer and the Broncos team bus collided at a rural intersection in Saskatchewan in April 2018. Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured. The truck driver pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Since the crash, Straschnitzki has made it his goal to make the national sledge team and eventually represent Canada at the Olympics. He was scheduled to be a member of Team Alberta at the national championships this spring.

That was before the pandemic hit.

“Not being on the ice for four months now is the hardest part for me. That was my escape and I used that for everything,” he says.

“The physical activity was a place to stress relieve, so it’s been tough and I’m just waiting for the rinks to open again.”

Straschnitzki says fortunately the epidural stimulator is mostly about muscle memory and all the programs he used before the pandemic are still intact.

He’s hoping to improve his range of motion throughout the summer.

“I want to get stronger, get more muscle contractions throughout my whole body and hopefully get more muscles moving that weren’t moving before,” he says.

Uyen Nguyen, executive director of the Synaptic Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Calgary, says the time away hasn’t hurt Straschnitzki’s recovery.

“I think Ryan has done a lot on his own to maintain what he had gained when he was back and I’m hoping this will just be a slight bump in the road and he’ll be able to continue on without too much regression at all with his therapy,” she says.

“I think Ryan has done a great job in maintaining all his gains that it was just a few days of hurt and he’s back and ready to go.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020.

hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Summer Village of Rochon Sands installs new attraction

The eight-metre long replica of a northern pike jackfish was installed near the marina on June 23rd

Country singer Jaydee Bixby performs at Entertainment in the Park on July 22nd

Bixby still as passionate about creating music as ever since his Canadian Idol days

Sylvan Lake beachgoers spark safety concerns

‘You’re putting your life at risk,’ tweets Rachel Notley

Conservatives call for Trudeau to testify at committee on WE Charity deal

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is already investigating whether Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Canmore RCMP respond to multiple hiking injury calls this weekend

EMS and RCMP responded to three separate and unrelated hiking accidents in Kananaskis Country.

How Conservative leadership hopefuls would address the WE scandal if they win

The ethics commissioner has been called in to see if Trudeau broke conflict-of-interest law

With debt, deficit numbers out, experts say Liberals need plan for growth

Borrowing will push the federal debt past $1 trillion by the end of the fiscal year

Pedestrian-only downtown a hit with residents as St. John’s adapts to pandemic

‘The city really got this right this time. We’re very happy’

Bosnian-Canadians mark 25th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre

‘It’s sad for a child to think that it’s normal, actually, to … have family members killed’

PODCAST: COVID-19 and the US Election

The Expert welcomes Burman University Political Scientist Marc Froese

Sylvan Lake RCMP continue search for missing man

43-year-old Steven Hull’s last known whereabouts were in the Sylvan Lake area on May 28

Most Read