Share This Page

Standing wheelchair would improve family's quality of life

| Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Dr. James Childs visited his grandson, Nathan Nelson (left), in Nashville, last year when Nathan participated in the Nashville Kids’ Music City Marathon. Nathan has participated in the marathon for five years in honor of “Papa,” as he calls his grandfather.

EAST FRANKLIN ­— Six years ago, Dr. James Childs, an ACMH Hospital pathologist, plunged 250 feet over a cliff along Route 268 near Butler Road when the ground gave way under his feet.

He survived the fall, but he was left with a severe spinal cord injury.

Since then, Childs has lived his life in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic.

But he and his family hope that may not always be the case. They believe he has a chance to one day walk again.

According to his doctors, Childs' spinal cord was never severed, said his wife, Rose Anne.

“They say his spinal cord is in shock, that it's an incomplete injury,” she said. “They tell him to keep his muscles up through therapy and by riding a bike.”

Family members purchased a Functional Electrical Stimulation bike for Childs, who had been an avid cyclist before being injured at the age of 58.

He has continued with an innovative type of therapy known as the Brucker Method of biofeedback, which his daughter, Lynn Nelson, said caused an increase in nerve activity in his legs.

Rose Anne said her husband has sensation everywhere, a tingling sensation, and can even tell when his feet are cold.

“I can see a big difference in how much more he can do,” said Rose Anne.

Childs' family believes that one more piece of equipment will help speed up the recovery process.

Nelson said her father's therapists and doctors have recommended a standing wheelchair, which will stimulate blood flow and maintain blood pressure and bone integrity.

“The hangup is, of course, that insurance won't cover it,” said Nelson.

That's why she has started a fundraiser on the Giveforward website.

The standing wheelchair costs about $8,000, not including shipping fees that run close to $2,000, Nelson said.

And the equipment would benefit Rose Anne too.

Right now, it takes two people (Rose Anne and one of several home health aides) to help Childs get out of bed. The repetitive daily movement has taken a physical toll on Rose Anne and has resulted in her developing an ankle injury.

With the standing wheelchair, Childs would be able to move from the bed to the wheelchair without assistance and could be lifted into position by the push of a button.

Rose Anne said that the family is grateful for the support they have received, particularly from Grace Brethren Church in West Kittanning and from the staff and students at its affiliate, Grace Christian School, where Childs oversees and instructs dissection during science class.

He is also a guest lecturer for the physical therapy assistant program at Butler Community College.

“My husband is every bit as busy as he was before,” said Rose Anne.

However, she said, people can be afraid of injuries and often don't realize the daily struggles associated with it.

She said that after the accident, there had been a tremendous outpouring from the community and noted that there are many ways for people to offer support other than at the monetary level.

Spreading the word about people with disabilities and their individual stories is important, said Rose Anne.

Nathan Nelson, 12, who is Lynn's son and Rose Anne and James Childs' grandson, has participated in the Nashville Kids' Music City Marathon for the past five years, dedicating each run to his grandfather, “Papa.”

Lynn said her son was in first grade when his grandfather had his accident.

Even at that young age, Nathan figured there was something he could do, and told his mother: “Papa can't run anymore, so I am going to run for him.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.