Thirty-two years after Tom Isaac broke his neck in a diving incident off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, he’s still finding creative ways to improve his quality of life despite partial paralysis.
He gives a lot of the credit to Craig Hospital in Englewood.
Every couple of years, Isaac returns to Craig for a physical and gets a chance to check out the facilities and equipment at one of the pre-eminent rehabilitation centers for people who have suffered spinal-cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. During a visit this spring, a therapist asked him if he wanted to try out a functional electrical stimulation cycle. It uses small electrical pulses to stimulate paralyzed leg muscles.
“I said, ‘I’ve been injured for 32 years. What’s the chances of it working?’ And damn if it didn’t work,” Isaac said. “It was so cool that I was able to pedal this bike after 32 years.”
The stationary bicycle boosts heart and lung function, improves strength and circulation, and builds muscle mass. It provides aerobic exercise for people who cannot move on their own or have limited movement with difficulty.
Isaac was so inspired that he ordered one of the cycles for his home and recently got it delivered. He is getting a level of exercise he couldn’t imagine prior to getting the Functional Electrical Stimulation bicycle.
He said he can’t speak highly enough of Craig Hospital and its staff for helping him make the connection and offering ongoing advice to improve his life so many years after his accident.
“They’re not going to say, ‘You’re too old’ or ‘You’re too infirm,’” he said.
He’s been impressed and inspired by the facility for a long time.
“It kind of goes back to when I got injured, back in 1982,” he said.
His surgeon after the accident advised Isaac, who had been a typical Aspen outdoorsman, to seek rehabilitation in a Southern California facility. It was a miserable experience and too far from home, he said. Isaac felt neglected at the facility and doubted the level of care, so he jumped at the opportunity when a friend recommended Craig Hospital in the Denver metro area.
He was impressed from the start with the level of care at Craig. “One day, I said, ‘I’m home,’” Isaac said.
Isaac said the facility has helped with the rehabilitation of 50 to 60 residents of the Roaring Fork Valley, according to its records. It’s touched countless lives of the families of the injured parties.
Nevertheless, so few people in Aspen realize such a renowned facility is located less than four hours away.
Craig Hospital President and CEO Mike Fordyce is speaking at the Aspen Business Luncheon on Wednesday. The presentation will be at 12:30 p.m. at the Mountain Chalet Aspen. The cost is $37 with a reservation and $40 at the door if it isn’t sold out. Reservations must be made at toddshaver@aspenbusiness luncheon.com.
Isaac is urging people to attend and learn about the present and future of therapeutic restoration.
“I would like the community to be aware of what a great facility Craig is,” he said.
“They did a presentation in Vail last year. That really set me off,” he added.
“They’re not going to say, ‘You’re too old’ or ‘You’re too infirm.’”
Tom Isaac, who is partially paralyzed