Scott and family fishing

Patient Story

From Grim Prognosis to Recovery

Posted By Allison Kessler, MD, MSc

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Scott Archer, a Phoenix, Ariz., resident, enjoyed an active, healthy lifestyle.

“He’d never been sick a day in his life. He never even got a cold,” said Carol, his wife.Then, days before Christmas in 2017, he suddenly fell down at his office.

“I watched my husband become paralyzed in the emergency room. Our insurance company just said, ‘Put him in a nursing home; he’s a quadriplegic. They think it’s damage to the spinal cord.

Carol, Scott's Wife

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Within a few hours, he inexplicably became paralyzed.

“I watched my husband become paralyzed in the emergency room,” said Carol. “Our insurance company just said, ‘Put him in a nursing home; he’s a quadriplegic. They think it’s damage to the spinal cord.’”

Scott and Carol were told to plan for the worst. They examined their options.

“Who would accept us?” pondered Scott. “There were other facilities that didn’t really want to deal with blood clots and all the other things that were going on.”

With much on the line, they decided to travel to Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for inpatient treatment.

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“We just showed up here, and it was the smartest thing we ever did,” said Carol.

At Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Scott underwent intense therapy, seven days a week.

I woke up in the middle of the night and I could raise my legs...

Scott

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As part of his early sessions, therapists would put Scott in a harness, move his legs and simulate walking.

Then, something clicked.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and I could raise my legs,” Scott said.

From there, Scott continued to make gains with hard work.

In the meantime, Scott’s doctor, Allison Kessler, M.D., MS.c., worked tirelessly to get to the root cause of Scott’s condition.

“Dr. Kessler … figured out this guy’s not injured in his spinal cord,” said Carol. “He’s injured in a different way, so maybe we need to approach this in a different way.”

Dr. Kessler discovered that an infection had damaged the nerves exiting Scott’s spinal cord, but not his actual spinal cord. This finding enabled her to put Scott on the right treatment plan for recovery.

That just all went away and he got his life back

Carol, Scott's wife

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“They have access to the top research, the best doctors, the best physical therapists, literally, in the world,” said Carol.

Soon, Scott was walking during therapy sessions with no walker or cane.

“That just all went away and he got his life back,” said Carol.

Today, Scott has returned to his active lifestyle in Arizona.    

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