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Nadolsky making advances to walk again

In a June 2006 issue, farragutpress printed a story on Benjamin Nadolsky, a boy whose immune system attacked his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

But Ben’s mother, Pam, said there have been developments in Ben’s condition.

“He’s doing great. He’s working hard and trying to get back on his feet. He did move his legs in water therapy a few weeks ago, but he can’t do it on land yet. I guess the lack of gravity in the water helped, and he had ankle weights on and it was against the current, so he actually did move, not very much, but he did move. That is a start,” she said.

Ben, now 11, has “a condition known as transverse myelitis. [It strikes] one to four out of one million people annually. It’s an overreaction; your body attacks itself. His immune system actually attacked its own tissue, his spinal cord. It kind of transects the spinal cord, but his spinal cord is intact,” Pam said. “It wiped out his nerves.”

Pam said she remembers the morning it happened.

“It was November 18, 2005, and he just basically went to ground paralyzed. He had a cold and his immune system attached his spinal cord, and paralyzed him from the waist down,” she said. “Basically I dropped him off with my folks to eat breakfast with my dad, and by the time I got to my house he was on the floor. By the time I got to Children’s [Hospital] he was completely paralyzed.

On a positive note, Pam said, “We just got back from Seattle. Dream Connection gave Ben his wish to go to Microsoft.”

Dream Connection, a non-profit organization that fulfills the dreams of children ages 3-18, told Pam and Ben about the trip last fall, but Pam said it took some time to plan because Ben was afraid to fly.

“It took about three days to get there,” Ben said. “We saw a lot of sights, Mount Rushmore, and we went to go see Microsoft.”

Mother and son still travel to Maryland for Ben’s rehabilitation.

“We’re continuing to go up to Baltimore, we go about every three months for two weeks. It’s three hours a day of physical therapy while we’re there,” Pam said. “He does a lot of standing, work with a stander. He does an electrical stimulus R-G 300 bike. They put electrodes on his legs and it moves his legs, it’s motorized. Their idea is using activity plus stimulation can help the body readjust itself and hopefully reconnect. We’re going to start calcium treatments, because when you’re a paraplegic you have issues to contend with as far as calcium goes and bone density, so we’re working on that too.”

She said Ben also has therapy when he’s at home in Farragut, both in and out of the house.

The transition to being confined to a wheelchair, Pam said, was difficult for Ben.

“At 10 years old he played football with his classmates and soccer. It’s been a horrible year-and-a-half for him. He lost all of his friends,” she said. “I think a lot of times with people in wheelchairs there’s an automatic assumption that there’s more going on than just being paralyzed. We found this world of disability has been tremendously difficult. The reactions that some have, not understanding – I think a lot of it is just ignorance. It’s been a hard road the last year-and-a-half, but I must say the people in Knoxville and surrounding counties, I can’t thank them enough for all the outreach and support they have given us.

“A builder came in and completely put the ramps in and made a bathroom for Ben. They modified the downstairs area so that we still have a den and the other half is Ben’s bedroom. They came in and did that for us.”

Pam said the builder, who does not wish to be mentioned, paid for the remodeling.

“They did it out of friendship,” she added.

Realtor Bill McSpadden and others took donations during a recent home tour to help pay for Ben’s care.

Anyone interesting in making a donation can do so at the Benjamin Nadolsky Medical Assistance Fund at American Trust Bank, 5426 Homberg Drive.


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