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Chicago Police, Chicago Bears Celebrate Alex's Progress in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

The Chicago Bears’ Joel Iyiegbuniwe, also known as “Iggy,” recently made a special reach out to Alex, a patient in our spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation program. Due to COVID-19 the pair spoke virtually online. The Chicago Bears community staff worked with Shriners Hospitals and arranged the connection for Alex, who is a high school football player from Chicago and a big Bears fan. But the Bears weren’t the only group celebrating this teenage patient with a big smile.

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago specializes in pediatric spinal cord injury/rehabilitation services, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. This summer Alex sustained a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed in one leg. He was transferred to Shriners Hospitals, unable to comfortably sit in a wheelchair and in too much pain to attempt standing, according to physiatrist Sue Mukherjee, M.D., director of our SCI/rehabilitation program. His inpatient rehabilitation care at the Chicago Shriners Hospital included medical care by physicians experienced with spinal cord injuries and a team of care managers, psychologists, nurse practitioners, clinical dieticians and other specialists, along with hours of physical and occupational therapy. Our staff members said Alex worked extremely hard in therapy appointments, treating it almost like athletic training.

During his time at Shriners Hospitals, Alex progressed to a wheelchair, then to walking using crutches with customized leg braces. Now he walks with a cane and leg braces. Throughout his time at the hospital, regular messages of support arrived from officers from the Chicago Police Department school resource team, who were friends with Alex from his Chicago-area high school. Those same Chicago Police officers were there in-person on the day Alex was discharged. They presented a birthday card for his recent 16th birthday. Officers also provided a multi-vehicle police escort for his trip home.

As he adjusts to moving through life a little differently after the injury, Alex will continue outpatient therapy at Shriners Hospitals to work on strength and balance.

For more information on pediatric rehabilitation, including inpatient neuro-rehabilitation and spinal cord injury care, visit our webpage. To make an appointment with physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians Sue Mukherjee, M.D., or Gabriela Martinez, M.D., call 773-385-KIDS (5437).


Alex and therapist during therapy

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