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Do you believe in Patrick Rummerfield's recovery?

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    Do you believe in Patrick Rummerfield's recovery?

    He is a quad, now 60 yrs old, who was injured in his early 20's drinking and driving. Even though his spinal cord was 85% decimated, he was able to walk again. He says its because of activity based restorative therapy...which he did for a solid 3 yrs after getting hurt.

    Am I jealous? A little. I would just like to know everyone's opinion on this. A lot of SCIers think its hooey.

    Here's my blog about him, plus a video showing him working in his new job as a patient liason at the Krieger rehab center (interacting with newbies):
    May the fetus you save be gay

    Great article T!
    I met him this summer at our Open House, gave a great talk. He's a badass!


      He was injured 35+ years ago, way back then there wasn't the technology to determine the amount of cord damage, it was a case of wait and see.

      So I'm calling hooey!

      He worked very hard with good return so good for him and his good luck.


        I met Patrick at the Open House this Summer and didn't know exactly what to make of the underlying disability and his recovery. In my mind he has a very severe injury and somehow ended up with a lot of return. I have no idea how much the therapy did for him. I don't think it hurt anything and it can't be debated that it didn't help him accomplish everything he pursued in his very adventurous life to date. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing his story and meeting him. The one thing I can say for sure is that he chose to not let his disability stop him from taking on any of life's adventures and there's not more you can do to overcome your disability than that.

        I also stopped by and met Jim too, during the tour at the Open House, and he seems like a very nice person.

        Visiting the Open House was one of my favorite experiences of the Summer of 2012. I was very impressed by Dr. Young's team and the efforts they go to to try and improve our plights.
        Last edited by Patton57; 15 Oct 2012, 2:20 PM.


          pats a really good dude him and doc mcdonald were at the rehabilitation center of stlouis when i did my rehab thats how i met him he always had time for ya i know he worked hard to get were he is i still keep in touch with him hes definitley bad ass dude
          to alcohol the cause of-and solution to-all of lifes problems [homer simpson]


            I first talked with Pat soon after I came home from the hospital in 2004, he had the only recovery I could sees that wasn't a scam. I set out to try it for myself, it took a few years to get where I am today but it's been worth it.

            I've tried various degrees of medication, and therapies but in the end I set on trying to do the things I did prior with modifications. I, like Pat have seem to come ahead. I didn't try unproven therapies in some foreign country without regulation or credentials. It was the only thing I could see and touch that wasn't going to cost me any thing to try, I just had to convince therapist that had little to no SCI experience to help me.

            I finely got to meet him at the summer open house, and seen what a "badass" he really is, I'm currently trying to achieve a bit more now that I've met him, as long as I don't catch fire doing it.


              The MRI (I believe it's MRI, if not then its another kind of imaging) shows that 85% of his spinal cord IS missing at the site of his injury. Whatever it was, something has allowed him to recover from his injury.


                Dr. Young has often said we only need 10% of or cord to completely recover.


                  Originally posted by Jim View Post
                  Dr. Young has often said we only need 10% of or cord to completely recover.
                  But, what 10%?


                    I love that he did active based therapy for 3yrs straight! You must be active in orderto make a change. There are many centers around the US that provide this activity
                    Tony Davenport, M.S.


                      I think he's full of shit, personally. (JOKE! Just a joke!) Honestly, if he recovered, I'm happy for him. I just don't think we can take individual experiences with such complex injuries as we have and make them apply to all.


                        What's to believe? He recovered. It's a fact. He was fortunate enough to have return and he coupled that with the endurance, dedication, and committment to push it to the ultimate limit. He had the right mix. Some folks don't. Some have return but not the drive while others have the drive without the return. He also likely had a good support network, a conducive personality type, resources, proper diet, lack of health complications, etc. I think when it comes together most anything you are doing toward rehab will work. I myself am a proponent of exercise base therapy. At Kernan my PT had a pretty exhaustive routine twice a day and I have done my own exercise therapy routine since the moment I left rehab as an ASIA B pushing C T12 para . I have made great progress, but this only amounts to correlative value no matter how you slice it. This is a case where you can't narrow it down to one factor. Exercise therapy is just one of many variables necessary for recovery.


                          I've watched and read good bit about him, and I can recall him repeatedly claiming that it took him three years to get to a point where he could kinda drag his weak side around (as he phrased it, more or less).

                          So apparently the whole "looking normal" part came along after three years.
                          L2 incomplete with a pretty bad limp since 10/31/2011.


                            I just want to say that while I am sure his injury is substantial the idea of therapy and hard work being the reason he is walking is counter to encouragement. I have worked hard. My injury isn't as bad. I can't walk on my own. It isn't that I don't want. It isn't that I haven't tried. It is because every recovery is different based on the healing process of the individual body. Some can't grow a full beard no matter what they do, but I can... Bodies work different in so many ways.


                              I typed this fast, so all the mistakes are because of my typing not Dr McDonalds.

                              The Medical and Scientific Viewpoint
                              of the Recovery of Patrick Rummerfield

                              John W. McDonald III, MD ,PhD
                              Director, International Center for Spinal Cord Injury
                              Kennedy Krieger Institute
                              Associate Professor, Neurology and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
                              Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

                              Why Pat Rummerfield? The answer is not that his recovery was a fluke or that his injury was a mild bruising of the spinal cord. In fact, Pat’s injury was a severe spinal-cord injury, resulting in him damaging C-3 through C-6 levels in the neck with the severest injury at the C-4 level. More advanced imaging now reveals that his injury actually extends all the way up to the base of his brain and to his mid-back level. This injury left him unable to move or feel anything below his neck, unable to control bodily functions such as urination or defecation or even control hid blood pressure and body temperature.

                              So why Patrick Rummerfield? Why did he recover? Part of the answer lies with the unique anatomy and blood supply of the spinal cord. The spinal cord is organized just the opposite of the brain. The white matter, which carries all the wires to and from the body, to the brain, is located on the outer side of the spinal cord.

                              The gray matter, which contains the nerve-cell bodies that send signals out to the muscles of the body, is located in the middle of the spinal cord. Trauma, like Pat’s motor-vehicle accident, breaks the spinal column and bone fragments impinge upon the soft, jelly-like spinal cord, causing bleeding and rapid swelling. The swelling occurs within a fixed-diameter spinal column no bigger than a garden hose and this, in turn, furthers cuts off the blood supply to the damaged spinal cord.

                              Essentially, the spinal cord dies from the inside out, typically leaving a fluid filled hole in the middle of the spinal cord where the central gray matter was located. Each gray matter level controls muscles at that level of the spinal cord only. Therefore, one can afford to lose one to two levels of the gray matter of the spinal card without much loss of motor function. However, as the damage extends to the outer white matter, connections to and from the brain and body are severed and damaged, leading to rapid loss of motor and sensory function below the injury site.

                              The good news is that damaged, non-functioning connections still exist across the injury, particularly in the outer most edges of the spinal cord, resembling a donut of remaining tissue at the injury level. The key is regaining control in these intact but damaged connections, as science has taught us that animals, whose spinal cords are similar to ours, can walk with less than 20% of connections left functional.

                              You can line up MRI’s just like Pat’s MRI and only one 1 out of 10 patients will be walking. So why is Pat different? We have learned that there are three essential features to recovery that individuals need to fully succeed.

                              1. Family support is essential as one cannot accomplish this difficult challenge alone. Pat had that in a loving father who was willing to do anything for his injured son.

                              2. Pat was an athlete and we have observed that those who have substantial recovery are often athletes. Athletes are very in tune with the signals from their bodies and have an uncanny ability to utilize abnormal information to regain control of their motor function. Pat is a perfect example of this as his motor system is in far better shape then his sensory system – the ability to feel or sense where you walk on an uneven surface. Even today, Pat’s sensory function is worse than the late actor/activist Christopher Reeve who sustained one of the highest level injuries ( C-2 just below the head) and the worst severity. For example, Pat does not know where his legs are in space unless he looks at them – there has been many a times when we are walking together, actively engaged in discussing new research findings, when Pat suddenly plops to the ground. However, Pat has learned to use different sensory information to allow him to get a better understanding of where his feet are while walking or racing. This is the athlete in him.

                              3. As is typical present in athletes, persistence in anticipation of future gains, although the gains may be months to years off. Not giving up because of lace of early returns is a critical requirement. Yet there are many gifted people living with spinal-cord injury who are not walking, so why Pat? Quite simply: Pat processes and always has processed since his days as an orphan, an undeniable sense of hope and unwavering determination. Pat will finish and accomplish whatever goals he puts his mind to, no matter obstacle or pain stand in his way. He will find a way no matter what because he knows it is possible. This is Pat’s difference. Pat still has that young, hope filled boy inside him, even today.

                              Time has allowed us to uncover additional scientific reasons for Pat’s remarkable function today. MRI technology has dramatically advanced since the first MRI’s of Pat’s spinal cord in the 1990’s. Until recently, MRI could only, detect the presence or absence of tissue. It could not determine if the tissue left surrounding the injury epicenter of the spinal cord was healthy and functional or just scar tissue. Most assumed it was just scar tissue since individuals with bad spinal-cord injuries like Pat’s had little to know function below the injury level. Well that assumption was simply wrong.

                              In the last five years, we have worked diligently to develop very advanced MRI imaging that allows for the first time to determine the integrity of the remaining white matter surrounding the injury site – giving us estimates of the anatomical health of the wires traversing the injury site as well as the state of their insulation, or myelination – both necessary for the connection to broadcast information to and from the brain.

                              You can understand my excitement as I was first able to apply new imaging to further study Pat Rummerfield. Using it for the first time on a human, we could finally know just how many connections are necessary for a realistic cure like Pat’s recovery. And the answer? Well, Pat has approximately 30% of his connection left across his injury epicenter, a number very similar to what we learned decades before in animal studies.

                              However, each tract serves distinct functions and the new, advanced imaging closely matched Pat’s functional characteristics. For example, like many spinal-cord injuries, the injury is not perfect; often, one side is affected more than the other. This is true in Pat’s case. Motor function is much worse on his right side compared to his left.

                              The advanced MRI imaging illustrated the same with the motor tract (wires) corresponding to the right side of the body being more damaged than that of the left. There are approximately only 15-20% of the connections serving Pat’s right-sided motor function. The tract most damaged in Pat are the dorsal columns that relay information on the whereabouts of the legs to the brain. This correlates very well with Pat’s almost absent proprioception ( the ability to know where your legs are in space with your eyes closed or in the dark) – her Pat has less than 5% of connections remaining.

                              The best single scientific explanation of Pat’s extensive recovery was his early and constant life dedication to physical activity in the first few years following his injury. Like many of Pat’s important decisions, he did not know all the reasons why it was critical to devote himself to physical activity (of any kind), but early on he simply understood that if he did not use his muscles he would lose them. It was not till the late 1990’s that science caught up and began to discover just how critical physical activity is to promoting recovery of function.
                              Member: New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Reasearch