Tami Martin is a paraplegic. But that didn’t stop her from walking down the aisle at her wedding over the weekend.
With a walker tucked under her gown, Martin, of Atlanta, defied her doctors and traversed the 63 feet to meet her now-husband Rob Dietrich at the altar. Fifteen years after the car accident that crushed her spine and left her partially paralyzed, Martin’s accomplishment can be attributed to weight loss and determination.
After the accident, Martin attempted physical therapy, but she broke her leg. She also put on a lot of weight. With the help of a surgical procedure, Martin dropped 192 pounds and set her sights on the altar.
“I walked down the aisle publicly after being told I would never walk again,” the newlywed told the local NBC news affiliate in Atlanta. But her ambitions don’t end there. With the support of her husband, and her unwavering faith, Martin said, “Now my goal is to walk again on my own without the aid of anything.”
Luckily for Martin, recent surgical and technological advancements suggest that her seemingly lofty goals may not be out of reach. In 2014, a number of paraplegics received the gift of mobility as a result of a variety of brand-new treatments.
Last April, Dustin Shillcox became one of four completely paralyzed patients participating in a clinical trial at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to regain voluntary mobility in their paralyzed muscles, thanks to an electrode stimulator implanted into their spinal cords.
In June, the FDA approved the ReWalk system, essentially motorized braces controlled by a wearable computer that helps paralyzed users to stand up, sit down and walk on their own. While similar devices have been used at rehabilitation centers around the country, for $69,500, the ReWalk system can be purchased for use at home.
And in October, researchers announced that a 2012 cell transplant had successfully helped a paralyzed Polish man named Darek Fidyka to walk.
“When you can’t feel almost half your body, you are helpless,” said Fidyka, two years after undergoing the groundbreaking surgery. “But when it starts coming back, it’s as if you were born again.”