Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor Ryan Straschnitzki, attends physio session with Kinesiologist Kirill Dubrovskiy, left, and physiotherapist Nelson Morela, right, in Calgary, Alta., Monday, July 16, 2018.(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

‘A lot more vigorous:’ Paralyzed Humboldt Bronco in third period with new physio

Straschnitzki was paralyzed from the chest down after the Saskatchewan crash

Paralyzed Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki is drenched in sweat after a workout that more closely resembled military boot camp than physiotherapy.

The 19-year-old’s two-hour routine at Synaptic: Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Calgary included chin ups, boxing, heavy rope training and pulling himself into a full standing position from his wheelchair just with the use of his arms.

“It’s a lot more vigorous here,” said Straschnitzki, who was discharged from the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia earlier this month.

READ MORE: Humboldt survivors to attend NHL Awards

READ MORE: Humboldt tragedy strikes the hockey community hard

He said the first time he pulled himself to his feet, it was a bit scary.

“It was pretty intimidating. But once I did it, I said let’s keep doing this and work on it.”

Straschnitzki was paralyzed from the chest down April 6 when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team and a semi-trailer collided north of Tisdale, Sask. The crash killed 16 people and injured 13 others.

“This is going to make Philadelphia seem like a vacation,” said Synaptic’s executive director and founder Uyen Nguyen, who worked as a sports therapist for elite athletes before opening the clinic in 2012.

“His body has recovered a little bit more so he’s able to tolerate more.”

Straschnitzki was all smiles after an assessment at the centre.

“I realized I’ve got some movement back in my core muscles. They’re pretty weak but they’re getting back so I’m pretty excited,” he said.

“They should come back stronger and who knows what will happen after.”

Nguyen said Straschnitzki is now able to flex some of his stomach muscles and it’s a good sign.

“Our assessment shows he has some voluntary control below his level of injury so he’s able to contract some of the abdominal muscles on command. So it’s voluntary. We’ll work on that six pack,” she said.

“It’s encouraging.”

Nguyen said in the short term, Straschnitzki will be at the centre for up to a year.

“We don’t have a discharge date. We don’t have this checklist of you’ve met all these things and goodbye, good luck. What we find in here is most people’s goals evolve over time,” she said.

“We’re constantly pushing to see where the limitations are. We don’t know what he’s capable of so, until you try, you don’t know and it’s really a discovery process.”

Tom Straschnitzki says his son has made “big time” progress since he began his therapy at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary three months ago.

“He’s getting his balance, but that’s also from the training from Philly and the occupational therapists in Foothills also. It’s kind of progressed to where he is now. Now they’re just taking it over and doing it extra hard,” he said.

Almost immediately after the April bus crash, Ryan Straschnitzki talked about playing for the national sledge hockey team.

Instead of skates, players use double-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. They have two sticks which have a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting.

Straschnitzki’s dream of returning to the ice came true late last week. He was able to try out the sport which is one of the most popular events at the Winter Paralympic Games.

Straschnitzki, wearing full hockey gear, propelled himself along the ice in Okotoks, south of Calgary.

“First time on ice since April 5,” Tom Straschnitzki posted on Twitter. “BIGGEST SMILE momma and I have ever seen.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Elections 2018: Meet your Grand Forks Council Candidates

The biographies of the 13 candidates for City of Grand Forks council

PLACE NAMES: Kootenay Landing to Reffek

Boundary railway siding was named after a BC Copper Company manager – but spelled backward

Meeting called on border change

Local residents who feel the impact of the change in border are encouraged to attend this meeting.

Families participate in breastfeeding challenge

The 16th annual Grand Forks Breastfeeding Challenge was held Saturday, Sept. 29.

Video: An up-close look at beluga whales in Hudson Bay

An up-close look as some belugas greet whale watchers off the coast of Churchill, Manitoba

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

NHL players say Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t impact them

NHL players say the legalization of marijuana in Canada won’t change how they go about their business.

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

Internal government documents show that more than one million jobs could be lost to automated vehicles, with ripple effects far beyond the likeliest professions.

Private marijuana stores should shut down, Mike Farnworth says

B.C. has approved 62 licences, but they still need local approval

HPV vaccine does not lead to riskier sex among teen girls: UBC

Girls are less likely to have sex now than they were a decade ago

Koreas agree to break ground on inter-Korean railroad

The rival Koreas are holding high-level talks Monday to discuss further engagement amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

Flash floods kill at least 7 people in southwest France

Flash floods have left several people dead in southwest France, with roads swept away and streams become raging torrents as the equivalent of several months of rain fell overnight, authorities said Monday.

Most Read