39 years old
"This is the best treatment for Spinal Cord Injury patients."
Over two decades ago, during the time when he was a teenager, Gabi Razvan Iordache sustained a spinal cord injury that drastically changed his life. However his ongoing determination and the recent treatment he received has played a significant part in his journey to recovery.
Gabi Razvan Iordache was an active young man like many others and physically very fit during the time he attended military high school in Romania. He kept up an incredibly active lifestyle and was accustomed to running 20 kilometres daily and constantly playing sports. However, at the young age of 16 he sustained a life changing spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia. Gabi was injured during a diving accident while he was diving with friends, and no one could have predicted the dramatic events that followed.
Gabi spinal cord injury was at the C5-C6 level, and he experienced paralysis in all four limbs, resulting in him having difficulty to complete normal everyday activities like going to the bathroom and voluntarily moving himself. Spinal cord injury treatment for this type of injury is very difficult, but Gabi kept an eye out for potential options that might be able to improve his condition.
After 23 years of living in a wheelchair and being dependent on the assistance of others, Gabi traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to pursue an alternative treatment that could improve his quality of life. At the age of 39 he was scheduled for the revolutionary Epidural Stimulation Procedure.
“23 years in a wheelchair, to have a chance [to be able to walk again] is like a dream-come-true. We are counting the hours. We are counting the time until I can get the surgery.”
The Epidural Stimulation Procedure
What exactly is Epidural Stimulation? It is a complicated procedure, but there have been many heartwarming success stories surrounding this breakthrough spinal cord injury treatment. The procedure involves the placement of an electrical stimulation device onto the patient’s lumbar spinal cord. This device can be activated to emit locomotor-like activity. The device stimulates muscles with impulses to help the patient regain control of some voluntary movements.
After the surgery, patients spend an extensive period of time in a rehabilitation program to condition their brain, nerves, and their muscles to work with the activated device to create voluntary movements.
One essential part of the Epidural Stimulation procedure is known as Mapping. This involves detailed recordings being taken of which of the patient’s muscles are responding to the triggers from the implanted device. This helps the muscles and the device learn to work together better, and ultimately improves their response to the electric stimulator.
Together with Physiotherapy, these two processes are critical in the patient’s recovery process. Physiotherapy is a process that aids the harmonisation between the muscles and the brain to help them work together to create more voluntary control.
Gabi's Road to Recovery
Following his treatment, Gabi and his family were absolutely thrilled to notice that he experienced zero side effects. Excited to begin his recovery, Gabi began the Mapping process very soon after his surgery. His post-surgery Treatment Plan consisted of Mapping, Regenerative Treatment, and other rehabilitative programs including physiotherapy, aqua therapy and occupational therapy.
Gabi made incredible strides in his recovery. Weeks after his surgery, he was able to perform 30 voluntary movements using his ankles and both of his legs. After a lot of hard work and determination, he gained even more bodily control over his hips as well.
“A miracle has happened here, no one has expected it in such a short time.”
Spinal Cord Injury Levels
Continuing to Work Hard
Gabi’s fast acting spinal cord injury recovery surprised everyone, including himself. He often expresses his immense gratitude towards the medical staff for helping him recover as much as he has already, and he has high hopes for his future abilities. During his treatment, Gabi continued to work hard at his recovery every day, and eventually he could walk on a treadmill (with the assistance of a hoist machine). This huge stride shows just how much his muscles have been revived throughout his intensive rehabilitation program and gives a glimpse of what he will be able to accomplish if he continues to work towards new goals.
Gabi has joined the ranks (along with Andrew Valadka and Andrew Bell) of spinal cord injury patients who have made amazing recoveries thanks to this revolutionary procedure.