‘I was bawling’: Injured Bronco’s mother stunned by his progress after surgery – Airdrie Today

By daniellenierenberg

The mother ofa hockey player paralyzed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says she's stunned by the progress he has made since receiving spinal surgery in Thailand.

Doctors implanted an epidural stimulator in Ryan Straschnitzki's spine earlier this monthand a week later injected stem cells above and below the injury in the hope thatwill help reverse some of the damage.

The 20-year-old from Airdrie, Alta., is to remain in Thailand until early December.

"Hands down I'm 200 per cent behind this. I didn't expect this kind of result this quickly," Michelle Straschnitzki said in aninterview. "It's definitely not a quick fix. It's not a cure, but it's certainly progress and it's more than we've had in 19 months."

Tom Straschnitzki, who is also inThailand,has posted a number of videos of his son's rehab, including one where the young manwas able to move a leg. Another video shows him strapped into a harness as physiotherapists slowly help him walk with the use of a machine on wheels.

"Bout time he got off his ass. 1st time since he boarded the bus that horrendous day," Straschnitzki tweeted.

"Therapist helping with knees and ankles so they don't buckle. Ryan did so good, I sent him to the beer store for me."

Straschnitzki was one of 13 players who were injured when an inexperienced truck driver blew through a stop sign and into the path of the Saskatchewan junior hockey team's bus in April 2018. Sixteen others on the bus died.

Straschnitzki, who was paralyzed from the chest down, has said he isn't expecting a cure but hopes the implant will restore some muscle movement and things such as bladder control.

A small device like a remote control is to send electrical currents to his spinal cord to try to stimulate nerves and move limbs. The implant is being programmed to stimulate certain nerves mapped out by surgeons and therapists.

The surgery can cost up to $100,000 and isn't covered by publichealth care or insurance, because the epidural procedure has not been approved by Health Canada.The familyis paying for it themselves. It is also performed in countries such as the United States and Switzerland, but it is much cheaper in Thailand.

The player's mother, who didn't go to Thailand, said he's been low key when she's talked to him.

"Intypical Ryan fashion he's very quiet. All he says is he's very tired and you can tell. His body, his mind, everything is tired because he's pushing as far as he can."

Her sontakes part in nerve mappingin the morning, does physio in the afternoon and then does more work with the implant, she said. He still plans to hit the ice in Bangkokwith his hockey sledge before returning home.

Straschnitzkisaid seeingher boy'sprogress on the videos stunned her.

"I was just absolutely floored. It obviously brought the tears. I was bawling. It was unreal," she said.

"Tom said the last time Ryan walked was when he walked on the bus and then, to watch him moving his legs, walking essentially, that just rocked me."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2019.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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'I was bawling': Injured Bronco's mother stunned by his progress after surgery - Airdrie Today

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