A stroke nearly ended Clarence Young’s horse riding days, until a Tarleton State University physical training program put him back in the saddle.
“Results are impressive,” says Dr. Joe Priest, who runs the Tarleton Laboratory for Wellness and Motor Behavior (LWMB). “The longtime Stephenville plumber, who suffered a stroke about three years ago, was told by specialists that his horseback riding days were over. Thanks to ‘Team Kinesiology’ (TK)—the students in the LWMB—Young has overcome that prediction.”
His story, and many others, is told in Priest’s newly released book, After Everybody Else Gave Up. In it, the Tarleton professor of kinesiology chronicles the success of a unique training program that’s changing lives and restoring hope.
The book documents stories of clients in wheelchairs who, with time in Tarleton’s LWMB and a resolve to improve, have left on their own two feet.
Participants with “frozen” shoulders and arms have regained the functional ability to lift their hands above their heads.
Some call it an exercise program, others rehabilitation. Priest and his team define the training program as science paired with a strong will to overcome. Those benefiting the most by what takes place daily in Tarleton’s LWMB call it a second chance.
For more than 20 years, Priest and TK have helped people with complications from stroke, neurological disorders or spinal cord injuries. The clients coming to the LWMB enjoy a renewed quality of life after exhausting health care benefits and being told by medical experts that their situation is hopeless.
Case studies in After Everybody Else Gave Up include that of Dr. Neal Sutherland, a physician who travels 60 miles roundtrip to work with TK.
Sutherland does 1,000 or more revolutions per day—500 forward, 500 backward—three days a week on a direct-drive, energy-regeneration bike, an activity his medical colleagues find remarkable for someone who’s suffered a major stroke. He also completes 2,500 steps—equal to 1.5 miles—daily on a NuStep Recumbent Trainer, which allows him to move his legs and arms simultaneously.
“I was a physician for 30 years and never saw the results I’ve seen here,” Sutherland said of his LWMB experience. “I’m amazed by my own improvement. I’ve gained more mobility than I ever thought possible, improved my sense of well-being and learned that a stroke doesn’t have to steal some of the best years of your life.”
The training program is designed to work the entire body, including the weakest parts—the ones some doctors and physical therapists say can never be used again, explains Priest, LWMB founder and director. Under Priest’s guidance, team members—undergraduate students typically with more than 100 university credit hours—help develop and supervise physical workout programs based on each client’s specific needs and personal goals.
“Unlike conventional therapeutic activities that incorporate brief periods of warm up, activity and cool down—often in isolation from other patients with a single trainer—we provide low-intensity training that often lasts three hours or more per session and takes place in a team environment,” Priest said. “Clients continue the workouts for as long as needed, and there’s no charge. The only requirement is a physician’s consent.”
The impressive results show that regimented, persistent training can extend health care beyond expected medical and therapy results, Priest said of his work. As a prototype, the lab could be the basis for a significant change in health care, producing major cost-savings.
“With the release of my new book, I am hopeful that the breakthroughs we’re experiencing at Tarleton soon will become the norm for treating those with catastrophic injuries,” he said.
After Everybody Else Gave Up is available through Amazon.
According to Dr. Owen Schipplein of Schipplein & Associates, Inc.—located in in Hammond, Indiana—who reviewed the book, “The health care industry and insurance industry should take note of a team willing to think beyond conventional wisdom and a team that dared to explore the resurgence of the body with the healing potential of the will in concert with the applied principles of kinesiology, biomechanics and engineering.”
While the lab’s goal is to improve the quality of life for participants, “the end result is not only an increased quality of life but one that is seasoned with hope and encouragement,” he wrote.
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