Even Rick Hansen himself had no idea of the impact he would have on the understanding and treatment of spinal cord injury when he wheeled his way to the finish line of his around-the-world tour 25 years ago.
Since then, Hansen has helped raised more than $250 million for spinal cord research and treatment. And it’s now estimated that an astounding 90 per cent of what is known about spinal cord injury has been developed since the Man in Motion Tour ended.
"You've got a 30-per-cent improvement in paralysis, so 30-per-cent of people today are walking away that 25 years ago would not have," said Bill Barrable, CEO of the Rick Hansen Institute.
For Sangeet Singh, the work done there has been nothing short of a miracle.
Not long ago, an accident left the young mother a quadriplegic.
Hers is one of many success stories at the institute bearing Hansen’s name.
"If it wasn't for Mr. Hansen himself ... people like me and many others with tragic accidents and spinal cord injuries, we wouldn't be able to walk," said Singh.
The centre is linked to 31 clinics across Canada and a network of 2,500 patients.
"Without Rick we certainly wouldn't have this type of energy and sense of collaboration to build a building like this," said Dr. Brian Kwon.
Former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt is among the best examples of how far treatment has come.
Harcourt had a devastating fall at his Pender Island, B.C., cabin in 2002. Early intervention and surgery in specialized centres is credited for his ability to walk again.
"I think in 25 years, you're going to see almost everybody with a spinal cord injury walking post-injury. It's going to happen," said Barrable.
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