Herniated Discs Lead to Partial Paralysis

Bill smiles for a photo

“I suddenly lost strength below the waist and the pain in my legs was excruciating,” recalls Bill Stenhouse, whose condition quickly deteriorated in July 2019.

The resident of Stoney Creek experienced the same symptoms in 2007. This led to the diagnosis of a herniated disc and cauda equina syndrome, which is a pinching of nerves in the spine. Back surgery in Toronto allowed Bill to live pain-free for the next 12 years.

Emergency surgery

In July 2019, after experiencing weakness and pain in his legs, Bill’s family physician sent him to the Emergency Department at Hamilton General Hospital. An MRI revealed that two of the discs in his spine were in danger of rupturing, so emergency decompression surgery and a spinal fusion were performed.

“After I awoke from surgery, I couldn’t move my feet at all,” says Bill. “I was worried that I’d never have the use of my legs again.”

Remarkable rehabilitation

To help get Bill back on his feet, he was transferred to the Regional Rehabilitation Centre for intensive physiotherapy. He spent many hours in the gym strengthening his muscles to help regain his balance.

“I continue to gain strength every day.”

“Little by little, I started regaining sensation and strength in my feet. The therapists kept me moving toward my goal of walking again.”

Hydrotherapy in the swimming pool at the Regional Rehabilitation Centre was also key in Bill’s recovery. The buoyancy of the water made exercises easier on his joints while also providing greater resistance for the strengthening of his muscles.

Upward trajectory

When Bill first began hydrotherapy, he required walking poles to help him walk across the five-foot-deep end of the pool. He progressed to the point where he could walk across the four-foot-deep area with no assistance at all.

“It felt fantastic when I was discharged and went home in October,” says Bill. “I continue to gain strength every day, and now I’m mobile with the use of a walker. I’ve come a long way.”