Paralyzed patients in Calgary are able to cycle again with a new exercise bike

Four years ago, 17-year-old Amanda Timm was confined to a hospital bed for three months straight. She suffered a T6 spinal cord injury while skiing in Fernie, B.C., which took away the use of her legs. But she decided she wouldn’t let it slow her down.

Amanda Timm, 21, was paralysed from the waist down after a skiing accident four years ago, but is now able to cycle again using the FES bicycle at her school, the University of Calgary. Photo: Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Amanda Timm, 21, is now able to cycle again using the FES bicycle at her school, the University of Calgary. Photo: Jennifer Friesen for Metro.

By Jennifer Friesen, Metro News April 22, 2015

Timm moved to Los Angeles the day after leaving the hospital, searching for a way to keep moving forward. There, she used a functional electrical stimulation (FES) bicycle – a machine that simulates a cycling motion by electrically prompting the nerve endings in her legs to move, despite being paralyzed.

“Keeping active is really important to me,” she said. “So keeping the muscles in my legs makes me feel good because I’m not abnormally disproportioned from muscle atrophy and I don’t have to worry about pressure sores. And it just feels good to get on a bike again.”

When Timm had her accident, the technology wasn’t available in Calgary, but on Wednesday afternoon, the University of Calgary announced that a bike has been made available in the Thrive Centre. The $35,000 bike is the first one open for public use in Calgary.

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