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Twenty-five years ago, at age 39, Jim Van Hulzen began experiencing numbness in his thighs and general feelings of weakness and fatigue. When the symptoms did not go away, Jim and his wife Linda began what turned out to be the difficult task of finding a doctor who could tell him why.
After a few months of seeing various physicians with no success, Jim got scheduled for a full day of diagnostic testing with a neurologist in his hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After comprehensive testing, including the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the neurologist informed Jim that he had chronic progressive MS.
No known cure for MS
There is no known cure for MS. Treatment is intended to speed recovery from attacks, slow disease progression and manage symptoms such as muscle weakness, muscle stiffness, and spasms. Jim tried numerous different medications, but nothing seemed to work. Many of the drug therapies have side effects and, according to the Van Hulzens, Jim often felt worse instead of better.
He stopped taking the medications and tried a little physical therapy on his arm at some point but that did not seem to help either. More than 20 years after his diagnosis at Sanford and with almost no feeling in his legs and one of his arms, Jim was back at Sanford, this time attending speech therapy sessions.
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) arm & leg cycling
His life took an unexpected turn when his physiotherapist suggested he try the wellness program there. Jim headed for the exercise room. Sanford now had a FES RT300-SL and a newly purchased FES RT300-SLSA and Jim began cycling twice a week. He felt better for the first time in years – and he became hooked on his therapy! After attending therapy sessions regularly for about a year and a half, Jim decided he wanted RT300 for home use to eliminate the time and hassle of travelling to and from the clinic each week.
Linda was hesitant at first, but Jim persuaded her, and both agree it was one of the best things they’ve ever done. According to Linda, he uses his RT300 more than he uses his mobility van these days. Jim appreciates the convenience of cycling at home with no travel and no transfers. Since beginning to cycle, his spasms have decreased to the point that he has stopped taking his muscle relaxant and feels fine without it.
Almost no medication and now in best shape since he was 20!
He is now on almost no MS medication at all. Jim cycles four times a week, an hour each time with his legs and a half hour each time with his arms. Regarding his thigh size, Jim says “I haven’t been in this kind of shape since I was 20 – it’s wonderful!” Linda says both she and his doctor have noticed a difference in the size and function of his stronger arm as well. Equally if not more importantly, the Van Hulzens feel it is protecting his overall health. Jim had had two bouts of pneumonia before beginning to cycle and has not had pneumonia since.
When asked if he’d like to share anything with prospective RT300 riders, Jim says, “It’s been a good deal. Look at it long-term. If you cycle on a regular basis, you will have nothing but positive results.”