Rifton’s Generous TRAM Donation Changes Dr Craig’s Life
By Dr Craig
The Rifton company has changed my life tremendously, with their extraordinary generosity in donating to me a Rifton TRAM, an innovative transfer and mobility device. The Rifton TRAM won gold at the prestigious Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) in 2013, in the Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Products category. The TRAM was praised for its thoughtful design and revolutionary approach to safe patient handling.
This video from the manufacturer of the award winning Rifton TRAM, provides a good introduction to the transfer and mobility device. I use the equipment for standing and walking training as well as for a number of rehab exercises. My TRAM video shows me training with the TRAM in my physical therapy, about two weeks after I first used the TRAM.
My physical therapist and advisor, Anne McCauley, informed me of some of the positive benefits of incorporating regular standing and walking, which includes faster wound healing, improved lymphatic system functioning, and improved cardiovascular system functioning/endurance. Other possible benefits include support of bone density, muscle strength, bowel and bladder functioning, as well as increase in range of motion, decrease in spasticity and contractures, reduction in swelling and positive psychological impact.
I am not making any claims that the Rifton TRAM will produce the above benefits for myself or anyone else. At the same time, given that standing and walking have been shown to produce significant benefits compared to remaining seated in a wheelchair and given that the TRAM allows me to effectively stand and walk, it seems logical for me to anticipate many of the above benefits.
Of course, standing and walking will not reverse a serious health condition like ALS, and people with serious health conditions should consult with a qualified medical professional who is familiar with the scientific literature pertaining to exercise with their particular condition. My improvements over the past five years, which can be seen in the comparison photos below showing my back when I was in hospice in 2009 and in 2014, a few weeks ago, are the result of a comprehensive dedicated holistic health/healing lifestyle.
How has the Rifton TRAM changed my life during the month or so that I have been using it? I will answer this question in two ways, first by sharing the observations of myself and others and then by sharing the vision of hope and freedom that the TRAM brings with it. I am able to sit on the edge of my bed unsupported with greater ease and security, and I am having less difficulty with pressure sores. When walking, I am able to walk farther before experiencing fatigue; I am also able to walk faster, with less fatigue. I have also noticed improved respiration, something quite important for someone with the diagnosis of ALS.
I like to feel my whole body engaged as I am walking, which I would include as related to a psychological benefit involved with walking–to feel all of myself working together as an integrated whole. Psychologically, I am uplifted by the possibilities that the Rifton TRAM brings to my rehabilitation and physical freedom. Setting meaningful goals has been a critically important aspect of my successful ALS healing journey.
I have the goal of training to have a walking date at the Meridian Mall in Okemos, Michigan, with my beloved Michelle in the Spring. Michelle and I were a couple during my first two years of college, and we reunited four-and-a-half years ago after over 25 years apart. Our’s is such a beautiful love story. I am so grateful to not only have the goal of serving humanity through the historic THE HEALERS campaign, but to be able to do it with such an amazing woman who I love so deeply.
So, I am generating much positive emotion in myself, and motivation for training, by focusing on how many enjoyable opportunities the Rifton Tram brings for me to enjoy standing and walking with Michelle. I am visualizing building up to 1 mile, but I need to be careful to not push myself in a way that is not beneficial to my healing; so, we will see what happens. The goal excites me.
My current training environment, a 62-foot hallway outside of my apartment, is requiring of me significant backward walking and some sideways walking. Although this is good for various muscle groups, it is kind of boring. I am looking forward to the weather conditions in Michigan becoming appropriate for outside training! One mile for me now, is as big of a goal as was the 1984 Detroit Free Press International Marathon in which I ran, after Michelle and I had parted. When I cross the finish line this time, Michelle will be with me.
Although I am now “running” a different race than in 1984, I am the same determined soul who is also working to change the history of ALS with the future of THE HEALERS ALS Scientific research campaign. Thank you for your support.
In closing, I ask that everyone reading this blog post to share with anyone in a wheelchair who could have their life improved by the Rifton TRAM.
To view my first YouTube Rifton TRAM video, please Click HERE.
Peace and gratitude,
Craig Oster, PhD
19.5-year survivor of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) &
Co-founder/Scientist/Advocate at THE HEALERS campaign