A North Texas man paralyzed after a motorcycle wreck said he's close to walking on his own.
Bill McKee likes to wear Superman T-shirts to the REACT Spinal Cord Injury rehabilitation gym in Addison where he goes twice per week for two hours to rehab. His trainer said, based on what he's accomplished in the last four weeks alone, McKee's earned the emblem.
"It's actually really miraculous, to be honest with you," trainer Ryan Bachik said.
A Paralyzing Wreck
A motorcycle wreck in Oklahoma 12 years ago smashed McKee's spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
"A spinal cord injury is a life-long battle," Bachik said. "A lot of people lose their determination and their drive after years of being sedentary in that chair."
Doctors put McKee on heavy doses of muscle relaxers and told them he'd need the medication for the rest of his life to mask nerve pain. Doctors also told him he'd never walk again.
Over the years, McKee has been able to live an active lifestyle in Garland with his family. He's been able to scuba dive, kayak and mountain bike, but he still didn't know if he'd be able to walk again.
A few weeks ago, McKee ditched the medicine after 12 years.
"There's no doubt in my mind, I'll be walking on my own," McKee said. "I like winning. I like being right. I won't accept No."
Bachik said McKee has slowly and steadily built up strength during the last year. Four weeks ago, Bachik strapped him into a machine called the Lite Gait for the first time.
The Lite Gait is a piece of specialized equipment that lifts a harnessed McKee off the ground. He is then lowered to build up leg strength and practice "walking" in the machine, driving his legs forward with his own power.
"It's the repetition that's key," Bachik said. "The more we do it, the more sensation and feedback his brain gives to his working muscle."
McKee said it's working.
"It's pretty awesome because I've gotten more and more sensation in my feet," he said.
He'll never be faster than a speeding bullet, but this Superman has a different goal in mind.
"I've got a daughter. I want to walk her down the aisle some day," he said. "That's my motivation."
Bachik said he's closing in on that dream faster than any client he's worked with. He said no matter what the goal is, it always happens one step at a time.
"Bill's not the only one who can fight for this," he said. "It's out there for everybody. It's whether they want to use their mind and reach their next goal."