Research drives progress. What are the preconditions for top performances in modern rehabilitation?
Werner Witschi is taking part in a project run by ETH Zurich and is testing an innovative walking robot on Lucerne’s local Pilatus mountain. The Swiss Paraplegic Centre is supporting the development project in the form of a cooperative partnership.
The story of Werner Witschi
«I planned and built photovoltaic systems. This work meant that I also had to go up onto roofs. This is when a careless step backwards resulted in a fall. I fell almost six metres. I was lucky and survived. This attitude places me in a good position to accept the situation with my paralysis. I never lost my joie de vivre.
After a turning point of this kind, it’s important that there’s hope. It’s important to formulate this hope carefully. Does it make sense to have hope in something that isn't realistic? Does it make sense to hope that you’ll be able to walk again? I know that at the moment there’s no surgical help available for my complete paralysis. Despite initial successes, research is still a long way from being able to turn somebody with a spinal cord injury into a fully able-bodied person.
Hoping for something unrealistic is simply a waste of energy. My hope is based on aids that allow me to walk, in part, like an able-bodied person. There are currently numerous ongoing research projects around the world and I count myself lucky to be part of one of these projects.»
Rehabilitation only achieves top performances if the dimensions of health integrity and disability are systematically taken into account for every patient. To achieve this, rehabilitation specialists from various areas of expertise link their knowledge into an individually designed rehabilitation concept. Physiotherapist Sebastian Lux provides patients in the Swiss Paraplegic Centre with exoskeleton training. He tells us about his experiences.
Hope of new discoveries
Maybe the solution lies within us. Maybe our own nerve cells will allow us to heal at some point. Maybe our neurons could allow limbs to regrow – as is the case for amphibians – or even allow severed spines to heal. Science is increasingly getting to know the “human miracle”, discovering new things and giving us hope.
Hope in science and research provides great support for not giving up: maybe people with a spinal cord injury will be able to walk again one day. Science and research drive all human progress. Also in the field of medicine. Hope of healing is kept alive through regular scientific publications that report on promising therapies.
We support people with spinal cord in-juries. Throughout their lives.