What paralysis? Jeffery Moore back on the job at FedEx

J. Michael Ross Correspondent
Formerly paralyzed after two back surgeries, Jeffrey Moore of Stephenville crossed the finish line at the Education Foundation's FK Color Run last week. Moore largely credits his recovery to the help of Dr. Joe Priest and the volunteer physical therapists at the Lab for Wellness and Motor Behavior at TSU.

After months of dedicated, non-stop work with the kinesiology students at TSU’s Laboratory for Wellness and Motor Behavior − under the direction of program head Dr. Joe Priest − former paralysis victim Jeffery Moore is back behind the wheel of his FedEx delivery vehicle where he was when his health challenges and subsequent recovery saga began more than 28 months ago.

Moore explains the evolution of his physical problems: “I drove a truck for FedEx and started having back pain that just kept getting worse. I went to the emergency room six times and they finally did a CAT scan to see what was causing it,” Moore says. “They found I had an infection that was affecting my spinal cord, so they performed surgery thinking they could get it.”

Unfortunately, that surgery was not successful and Moore underwent another in which his spine was fused and rods inserted.

“But after that, I couldn’t stand or walk at all. I spent one month at a rehab facility and while I was there, the social worker told me about the LWMB,” he says.

When Moore and his wife, Peggy, who works at Saint-Gobain Abrasives, checked out the LWMB and found that it doesn’t cost a cent, they moved here from Weatherford and the work to achieve complete recovery began.

“Jeffery Moore is far too humble to admit to what he really accomplished in seven semesters of lab training,” Priest said. “This involved seven different teams of trainers, each picking up where the last team left off in order to continue to work on Jeffery’s improvement.

“In between semesters, I would ‘catch’ him walking at the city park with two canes as he continued to challenge his capabilities. What he wouldn’t say to you is how much he impressed the trainers with his work ethic. I would check his workload as he accomplished 2,500 repetitions on the NuStep and find that his power output was as high as some athletes on campus.”

Literally, after everybody else gave up [which is the name of Priest’s new book about several of the successes achieved by patients at the lab] Jeffery and wife Peggy moved from Weatherford to Stephenville only to find no available handicapped housing.

“In their apartment, with Jeffery initially mobile only in a wheelchair, he could not even get through the narrow door. Peggy would lift and lodge a nearby outdoor bench in the door opening where Jeffery could transfer from his chair to the bench, and slide into the apartment,” Priest said.

Peggy would then lift and pass the wheelchair over the bench through the opening into the apartment, where Jeffery could transfer into his chair for indoor mobility.

“Dr. Priest and the people who volunteer here are just amazing,” Moore says. “There is no doubt about it; if it weren’t for this lab and these people, I wouldn’t even be walking, much less back at work.”

Moore now works Tuesday through Saturday and only visits the lab on Mondays.

“I mostly deliver in northern Erath County in rural areas. I can do what the job requires; I’m able to handle up to 60-pound bags of feed, for example,” Moore said. “It feels great to be back to work and as far as my back goes, I watch it pretty close and so far, so good.”

It should also be mentioned that last October Moore completed the Education Foundation 5K Color Run in City Park along with wife, Peggy, daughter, Grace, and son-in-law Heath. One year before, he watched them run that race from his wheelchair.

Dr. Priest has written a new book, “After Everybody Else Gave Up,” about which he says, “I am really interested in people learning about our lab activities, and the incredible impact such programs can have on American health care. The book tells 14 stories of people moving under some kinesiology supervision and encouragement, regaining what at first seemed might be improbable health.”