Bob Bristo poses for a photo at St. Peter’s Hospital.

Learning to walk again

“My back pain was excruciating,” recalls Bob Bristo of Georgetown. “Then I began to experience weakness and paralysis in my legs. It kept getting worse until I could barely wiggle my toes.”

A number of questions raced through Bob’s mind: “Do I have a life-threatening condition? Will the pain keep getting worse? Will I require the use of a wheelchair for the rest of my life?”

After a scan revealed an abscess in his spine, Bob underwent surgery in Mississauga to drain it. The surgery successfully cleared up the infection, but the abscess had already caused damage to Bob’s nerves. Even with it gone, his motor function was badly affected.

“I couldn’t walk on my own at this point,” he explains. “I was told that I might never walk again.”

A step in the right direction

With family in the region, Bob was transferred to the Restorative Care Unit at St. Peter’s Hospital (SPH), where he began an intensive exercise program to help increase motor function and strength.

“With the help of therapists, I started to regain control of my toes,” he says. “I could eventually wiggle my feet and lift my legs a little. Progress was slow but promising.”

“It’s amazing to think about how far I’ve come.”

Many hours were spent in the restorative care gym, where Bob worked closely with physiotherapists and occupational therapists to recondition his body. His confidence increased as he began to see results.

“At first I needed a lot of assistance, but I learned to use the parallel bars on my own. Before I knew it, I could climb the stairs in the gym without any help. It was a great feeling.”

Back on his feet

Within months, Bob was able to stand up from his wheelchair on his own and he could use a walker for short distances. After several months as an inpatient, he was discharged home.

“It’s amazing to think about how far I’ve come,” says Bob. “All of this has been possible thanks to the amazing staff at SPH. The care I received was second to none, and I’ll always be grateful to them for helping me walk again.”

To learn more about the many ways you can donate to enhance patient care, visit the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation website or call 905-522-3863.