December 26, 2015 8:49 pm
Updated: December 26, 2015 9:55 pm

Calgary man with spinal cord injury fighting for local rehabilitation funding


WATCH ABOVE:  Spinal cord injuries can change your life but treatment options in alberta, are limited. A young Calgary man is determined to rise above the pain and improve his quality of life, and others. Bindu Suri has more.

CALGARY – Spinal cord injuries are life-altering and treatment options in Alberta are limited, but a young Calgary man is determined to rise above his tragic circumstances.

Erik Dickson is working hard to improve the quality of life for himself and others.

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He’s in the fight for his life, the life he used to know.

“I used to workout seven days a week, play hockey, playing lacrosse, going hiking. I miss that, just being able to do normal things with my friends,” said Dickson.

Life as he knew it changed after Dickson traveled to Mexico with friends back in April.

“First day there, I dove into a shallow pool and broke my neck,” said Dickson.

“The diagnosis that tells you that your child is paralyzed neck down. What does that mean? What do we have to look forward to?” said Erik’s mom, Torill Myre.

One thing about Erik never changed that day – his passion for living. But specialized rehabilitation required traveling across the border to Denver.

“This is such a big issue, there’s millions of people in Canada with disabilities. The fact that it’s not being taken care of in the same magnitude as the States is unfortunate,” said Dickson.

The closest form of treatment he could find in Calgary was at the Synaptic Spinal Cord Injury & Neuro Rehabilitation Centre.

The facility is only 4-years-old and more equipment is needed.

“Synaptic to date has not had a single dime of government funding. We operate as a private entity but as a complete registered charity,” said Uyen Nguyen from Synaptic Health.

Erik has raised more than $20,000 to bring in more equipment, including the ‘Erigo Pro’ he used in the states.

The improvement Erik has seen in less than a year has been remarkable.

“Before, he could barely lift his arm and then it got stuck. Now, he has a lot arm function and postural control,” said Myre.

The determined hockey player, who once played for the Calgary Royals, has a new fan base now – The people helping him get back on his feet.

“I’m not going to settle for less than getting back to what I used to be. If I can’t run a marathon that’s okay but if I can walk my dogs in the park, that’s more than enough.  I want to be able to walk my daughter down the isle. I want to teach my kids how to skate, I want to be able to do things that my dad and mom did for me,” said Dickson.

With his mother still cheering him on from the sidelines, this is just the beginning for Erik.

“Have your bad day, wake up and keep fighting,” said Dickson.

“It’s a tough journey. As a parent you don’t want to see your child suffer like that. You’re with them. When you have a kid like Erik, who says I’m going to fight for it….you’re with them too. You hold that light for them,” said Myre.

The ‘Erigo Pro’ alone cost more than 80-thousand dollars. You can donate to the charity at Synaptic Health’s website. 

“There’s this collateral growth that allows the brain to find other pathways to work and connect. Exercise is a tool being used to forge these new pathways,” said Nguyen.

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