Inspirational doctor left paralysed from waist down returns to surgery thanks to 'stand-up wheelchair'

·News Editor
Inspirational doctor left paralysed from waist down returns to surgery thanks to 'stand-up wheelchair'

An inspirational surgeon has beaten the odds by returning to work in the OR after becoming paralysed from the waist down.

Dr Ted Rummel lost the ability to walk or stand when a blood-filled cyst in his spine burst three years ago.

The surgeon faced a lifetime in a wheelchair - but has undergone intense rehab and gone back to work with the use of an amazing 'stand-up' wheelchair.

The orthopedic surgeon, who now performs hand and elbow surgery once a week, can do all the same complex tasks he could before despite only having movement in his upper body.

Dr Rummel spent a year in rehabilitation, and has been able to perform shoulder surgery thanks to the pioneering wheelchair which keeps him in an upright, standing position.

He describes getting back to surgery as 'getting a piece of my life back', and his determination has been hailed by colleagues.

Dr Rummel maintains his strength with daily exercise, and says he owes a lot to the emotional support given to him by his family.

His ordeal began in 2009 when he was diagnosed with cavernous hemangioma, a type of blood-filled sac, on his spine.

He was not operated on immediately, as doctors feared they may cause him complete paralysis.

He coped with the cyst until September 2010, when it ruptured - and the subsequent surgery left him paralysed from the waist down.

Dr Rummel said: 'When I’m able to do this, and I can get a piece of my life back, it’s huge. It’s so special.

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‘One of my first thoughts was, "Oh my gosh, my life as I know it was erased,".

‘Who you are out of the OR is gone and you have to redefine yourself.’

‘The entire thing has made me phenomenally better with my family. It’s just been a very powerful experience.’

The determined doctor decided he was going to make it back into the Operating Room no matter what - and he has since returned to work.

He now performs all procedures as normal - including hands, elbows, feet, ankle, knees and shoulders - from his sitting or standing wheelchair.

Ann Abad, of Progress West Healthcare Center, where Rummel works said: 'Very quickly it was apparent that his skills were still there.'

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