(NewsUSA) - Pamela Cobler was a teacher and part-time model who was active in gymnastics, volleyball, swimming and horseback riding. All of that changed in May 2001 when Cobler, a native of Martinsville, Va., suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident that left her unable to walk.
Since her injury, she has earned a doctorate in education administration and the title "Ms. Wheelchair Virginia" in 2004. She remains healthy and strong and credits her recovery largely to a piece of medical equipment: a standing device, which she uses at least five days a week.
Doctors and physical therapists recommend assisted standing for patients who are unable to walk as a result of injuries or medical conditions. Standing helps minimize the complications that can result from prolonged use of a wheelchair, such as pressure ulcers. It also improves circulation, breathing and renal function; relieves back pain; decreases fatigue and builds strength.
"Before I was injured, I was physically very active and sociable," Cobler says. "Standing has helped me continue to stay strong, which has helped me feel better and feel whole. I can also talk to friends and family at eye level."
Cobler uses the EasyStand Glider, a device that provides what its manufacturer calls "active standing technology." Beyond helping patients stand, it features glide handles that users can move with their arms, which allows them to move their legs as well.
At first, Cobler was able to stand for about 30 seconds at a time. Now she stands for up to two hours a day.
"I am very, very healthy, and I believe a majority of the reason for my continued progress and health is because of my standing program habit," she says.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, there is "a growing body of research that shows patients with a severe spinal cord injury can generate the muscle activity necessary to walk, independent of brain signals." Researchers studying patients with spinal cord injuries have found that when one leg moves, it sends a signal to the other leg to move -- without input from the brain.
"I believe that I will walk again one day," Cobler says. I am focused on standing up and moving as much and as often as I can."
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