Science fiction gives hope to a boy’s fight to walk again

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Gavyn and his mom at the zoo (Aug 2011) (Aaron Garcia)

By, Heather Maloney

Gavyn is just like any normal three year old boy. He loves superheroes, Pixar characters and even gets into trouble now and then. About a month ago, Gavyn was in a car accident and his life was forever changed. Just like any other kid, he unbuckled the top buckle of his car seat and his mom, just like any other mom, turned her attention to him for a split second and that is when they collided with a bus.  Gavyn defied the odds just making it to the hospital. He suffered a complete spinal cord transection between the C6 and C7 vertebrae. With every surgery he has had since, Gavyn continues to defy the odds.

Video of Gavyn Before the Accident

Gavyn is just like any normal three year old boy. He loves superheroes, Pixar characters and even gets into trouble now and then. About a month ago, Gavyn was in a car accident and his life was forever changed. Just like any other kid, he unbuckled the top buckle of his car seat and his mom, just like any other mom, turned her attention to him for a split second and that is when they collided with a bus.  Gavyn defied the odds just making it to the hospital. He suffered a complete spinal cord transection between the C6 and C7 vertebrae. With every surgery he has had since, Gavyn continues to defy the odds.

The current conundrum is the gap between reality and possibility. Doctors have made amazing improvements in spinal cord medicine, however these are possibilities that are currently out of reach for little Gavyn.  Science fiction has always explored possibility and spinal cord injuries are no exception.

Exoskeletons

What if a person could walk or even increase their strength just by strapping on a metal skeleton? In Aliens, Sigourney Weaver used this technology to lift extra weight. While this may seem like technology that is decades away, the Military is already using exoskeletons and some rehab clinics are testing them. However, the cost is still very high and this technology is currently not available for individual use.

Electrical brain stimulation

In Star Trek, electrical stimulation is used for a variety of medical issues such as resuscitation. A recent article in The New York Times discusses how scientists have trained a rat to walk again after a spinal cord injury left his hind legs paralyzed. The scientists first use electrical signals in the brain and then followed up with medicine to assist in healing.

Artificial spine transplants

Doctor Beverly Crusher can be considered a miracle worker even in the world of “Star Trek”, however even she needed additional assistance when Doctor Russell helped complete a full spinal replacement on Worf in the episode “Ethics”. Currently, full spinal replacements are not close to being a reality, spinal disc replacement through donors and artificial implants have successfully been accomplished.

While the world of possibilities is amazing and helps to give hope to all those who are suffering from debilitating injuries, the unfortunate reality is that many of these options are still being developed or are too expensive. Many kids like Gavyn hope to receive the benefit of these promises one day. One can continue to hope that science fiction has created a world of promise that Gavyn will walk through in the future.

For information on Gavyn’s recovery and to donate to help with his ongoing fight please visit www.friendsforgavyn.com.

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Published by: Heather Maloney

Heather Maloney is an avid Doctor Who and British science fiction fan. She attends the Gallifrey One Convention in Los Angeles annually, and facilitates the Doctor Who Panels for the Starfest Convention in Denver. During her active Doctor Who Fandom, she has met four Doctors, countless companions and numerous Doctor Who actors, writers and directors. Contact Heather at doctorwhoheather@gmail.com. http://www.examiner.com/user-doctorwhoheather

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