Spinal Cord Research Participant Shares Journey to Recovery

Steve Adubato goes on-location to the Kessler Foundation’s 16th annual "Stroll ‘N Roll" and speaks with Rosalie Hannigan, a Kessler spinal cord research participant, about her accident and her journey to recover her mobility.

11/20/17 #2086






"I want introduce you to a very special person. I met her just a few minutes ago, and... who has a powerful story to tell. Her name is Rosalie Hannigan. She's a spinal cord injury participant, and member of the Stroll 'N Roll Committee. And first of all, thank you for joining us. You're welcome. Thank you for having me. And it's a pleasure. Yeah. So your life, like so many others who were busy working, I believe, in a bank in New York a while back? Yes. And you were down the Jersey Shore? On vacation. And you were on vacation body surfing? Yes. What happens? I was... I rode the wave, and then when it brought me in, lying already at the beach, where the water breaks, I was getting up on my knees, when another wave came and hit me from the back. So I tumbled over, feet went up, and then when I landed on my back, when I tried to get up, I cannot get up anymore. I broke two vertebrae in my neck. So basically I broke my neck, and I was instantly paralyzed. And no one can pick me up, because I was dead weight, people... the lifeguard had to come and get me. I'm in synchrony... I say in synchrony, because they don't want anything more to break on me. So that's what I'm doing. I'm just having a fun time at the beach, and my family was there, all of us, because I'm afraid to go underwater by myself. But then I did that, and then I've always been doing it for a long time too. I love doing it. And that freak accident just happened. And so today... It turned my life around. Yeah it did, and you were telling me before, and this is... you're actually in the robotic exoskeleton that we talked to some of your colleagues... well, some of the researchers, Gail was telling us just a few moments ago... describe... and we'll take a shot of this so people can see it... describe this exoskeleton, and how it's changed your life. Well the exoskeleton, as you can see, is attached to my body, and it's programmed to walk me. That's for me to learn to walk again. And make it stronger. At first, when I started with this program, the machine is walking me. They have it, like, at maximal assist, and every step that I make is made by the machine. So I just go along with it. But after a while, or should I say... about eight months, by the end of eight months, or seven months as a matter of fact, I've gotten so stronger..."