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Neuro Center visit: 3 patients. 2 strokes and 1 head injury. Never underestimate the mind's ability, or the body's will, to overcome.

Dan Metcalfe, 60uP creator/CEO visited a Neuro Center to showcase the 60uP Balance Board with in-house Physical Therapists and staff. What he didn’t expect was an impromptu invitation to put the Balance Board to a live test with actual patients ... this is the awe inspiring story of what happened next.

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019. A day that I will never forget and an emotional experience for everyone present.

I was invited to demonstrate the 60uP Balance Board at one of the top nationally recognised Neuro Centers, located in Los Angeles, to their physical therapists and athletic trainers. I did not know what to expect, but always trust that the board, and people actually getting on it and feeling the change themselves, is the best talker.

At high noon, fitting for old western movies and facing my test, I was standing before a room of excellent experts and specialists that dedicate their lives to helping people with severe conditions, varying from sports to brain injuries.

I presented how the board was created, the results, and demonstrated a number of uses of the board, including a few of the huge variations of over 100 exercises. I then opened the room up for questions, while at the same time bringing up the attendees two at a time to test the board.  To my amazement there were not many questions, well one that did stand out that I will get to next, but mostly it was many statements about how great the board is.

So, what was the one question that they had?!

The question was, “would I be willing to go into the Physical Therapy Rehabilitation room and work with some of their patients...right now?”

Now, if you ever want feedback about a product, you can’t get more authentic than having a company request, after only an hour’s showcase, to have you work with their real patients. That said all that needed to be said about their belief, trust and opinion of the 60uP Balance Board.

When I entered the rehabilitation room I could not believe how busy it was. So many people fighting to get their lives back. The quality of care and professional attention given by each trainer and therapist to those “fighters”, was so impressive.

As I set up the boards, I felt a tall presence, and a set of eye looking at me. I stood up and was introduced to Mike. Mike was a structural engineer, and a super surfer. Tall, blond, and with shining eyes. A spirit emanating happiness and life. I asked him what had happened. Well actually, Mike blurted out the accident before I could really ask. A boat, when he was in the water, had hit him in the head. A valiant hero, who dived in and got him to the hospital, saved his life. There Mike lay, for 39 days, in a coma.

Months later, he was now under the care of some amazing physical therapists, trying to learn to balance and walk again. What amazed me most about Mike was the sparkle in his eyes. He was alive and loving life, yet his body was betraying his inner desire. For now. As I started Mike off on simple step taps on the board, he let out a cry of joy. He felt so energized! Within 10 minutes he was ON the board, rocking side to side, doing different foot patterns and grinning ear to ear. “I WANT A 60uP BALANCE BOARD!” he exclaimed. As I turned to smile at the therapist, I was met with a whole room of patients and specialists staring at Mike and smiling almost as much as he himself was. People couldn’t believe what they were seeing, and most of all, his therapist, who was so proud of Mike. Mike started talking about going back to surfing, maybe even skiing. As it turns out, he had been on Ski Mountain Rescue teams in the past, but stopped due to the accident.

I could not have been more proud of the mental and physical change when Mike finally stepped off the board. People were saying how balanced he seemed compared to prior sessions.

Next up I was presented with 2 amazing spirits. Ted and John are survivors, having both suffered severe strokes, they were so unstable I wondered if I could even get them on the board.

I had created a new pole set, aluminum poles that add strength to the user if extremely off balance, and they were a godsend that day. I prefer the yellow poles as they push the body to work faster on balance and stability, but the aluminum poles allowed both Ted and John to use the strength of their upper body, which was required due to the affects of the stroke. Because of the severity of their individual challenges, I could only work with them one at a time.

Ted is a young man, maybe early 30’s at most, with a spirit most of us would dream of having. Vibrant, happy, taking on any challenge, Ted walked with a 4-pronged walking stick but would still, the therapists told me, fall over. I decided my approach would be to work with Ted for 10 minutes only and then work with John.

Safety is always first for me, so the exercises I used were very basic balance movements. It was important to see where Ted was at, not underestimating his abilities but not pushing too much.  Well, I could not believe the results, Ted was laughing! He was so excited to have his feet moving and already feeling more centered. Again, the therapists gathered around and could not believe what Ted was actually doing. 

I was standing with Ted the whole time, arms ready to catch him should he lose balance, but amazingly, with the aid of the metal poles, he had enough strength on one side to hold up both sides of his body. I turned to look at two 60uP team members who we assisting me, and I saw tears in their eyes, seeing such a spirit, trapped in a body, but working that body to allow him to be free.

At this point the managers of the facility came in to watch. They had heard the commotion of excitement and had been told they had to come in.

I switched my attention to John, who was sitting quietly on a padded bench against a sidewall.

John was more sullen, he was still struggling to come to terms with his relatively new condition. You see, he was a workout guru and had popped a carotid artery while power lifting, and now he could not even move his left hand. On top of that, John is a successful actor who moved to Hollywood many years ago and was often seen on TV. Not only had he lost his love of physical activity, he had lost his career.  

I was truly sympathetic. I had spent many years on stage, TV, and in movies, and working out is such a part of my life. Part of me felt that I could have been where he was now sitting. Fate is both wonderful and cruel sometimes; it reminded me to appreciate my health and to value every second.

What John and Ted had in common, was a desire to not accept what life threw in their path. Rather, they were choosing to fight back by working to be all they could be. I was honored to have this short time with them.

John’s challenges were different such that he could not hold onto the pole with his left hand. His therapist, who was working along side me, took hold of his hand and placed it onto the metal pole. She beautifully kept ahold of John’s hand, with the pole keeping them both connected. John could not bend his left knee and lifting his foot onto the board seemed impossible.

This is where I remind Doctors, we may know the body, but we should never judge the spirit.

Within 5 minutes, with a crowd watching on, John started to lift his left foot! His knee bent a little, and he tapped the board. Yes, he actually tapped the board. He then placed his weight on his left leg, me supporting him, and lifted his right foot to tap the board.... and repeated, and repeated... slowly, but he was doing it!  Phenomenal progress and so amazing to have the brain take over the body purely because John wanted something badly enough to put the focus and effort in. Every small movement was evidence of the mountain he was moving before my eyes.

After 10 minutes, John sat down and I once again went back to Ted. We advanced a little further and he was actually balancing, even if it was a bit rocky, on the board. Again, that youthful energy of a man achieving glory rang out around the room. The smiles everywhere I looked permeated the atmosphere. Victory! It was not “one small step for mankind”, it was a giant step for Ted! We finished our session together and I was so proud of him. What a man of courage Ted is!

I walked back to John, the intelligent eyes of a thespian were staring back at me. Being the most limited in movement I wondered how far could I take him. Something told me not to sit back, but to challenge his sense of balance and prove that the mind body connection can remap itself if the desire and patience is there.

I held John’s hand as he tried to get to the board. I moved it a little closer to him and took a deep breath.

John” I said, “I want you to try and get up on the board.” Gripping the metal handle with his one good arm, putting his weight onto the strong leg, and with his therapist and me assisting him, John pulled that body of his up onto the board. “Rock side to side,” I challenged him. Sure enough, with passionate focus, John pushed down on his faltering left leg and rocked to the side. I held his waist. He felt safe. He rocked back...and rocked, and rocked. I picture all the faces, mouths opened in awe of what he was accomplishing.

I was bursting with excitement. “Lean to the right and try to lift your left leg” I calmly asked, containing an excitement level akin to an excited boy at the carnival waiting to see if the ball landed in the fish bowl for a winners prize. Slowly, with much effort, John lifted that left leg, knee bent a little, that just would not bend like this before. I knew, there and then, that the proprioceptive connection, the neuro plasticity we all have, the remapping of the brain to lead the body, is true, real, and happening before my eyes.

I think I experienced more that day than anyone. As John left to go to his next physical therapy session I turned to my 60uP friends, Kim and Stone. We just smiled at each other, knowing that lives were being changed for the better. Words did not need to be exchanged.

We said our goodbyes as we also talked with the Facility managers and therapists with an overwhelming united desire to get the boards into the Neuro center. We are working through their needs to be able to provide anything they may ask for.

The new metal, heavier weight-bearing poles proved invaluable and they will be available via special order soon. We are so excited to find the 60uP Balance Board can affect so may people, especially with the unbridled support of Doctors and Physical Therapists.

As Kim, Stone and I took the elevator, with the two 60uP Balance Boards in hand, I turned to see the doors closing, leaving the scene of people helping people that need help. What a beautiful place I had just encountered. But in that elevator I kept hearing a voice. A voice following me onto my next stop of trying to help others live a better physical and forward-thinking life.

“You know Dan, I think I can surf again, and maybe even ski”.

You know what Mike, I think you are 100% right.

 ——

Thank you Mike, Ted and John for sharing a moment of your amazing accomplishments with me. I left inspired by you. It is not what we can do that makes us special, it is what we try to do.  Facing barriers along our path, trying when others give up on us. Knowing that trying, pushing, believing in our own power, never stopping because of others expectations against us; that is what makes us, you, special.

You know, when I raced in Ironman Canada, standing on that start line many years ago, I thought a Champion was anyone that crossed the finish line. That beautiful Canadian morning, as the cannon went off to start the race, not knowing what was ahead... the 2.4-mile swim, the 112-mile bike ride over the Rockies, the 26.2-mile marathon, I realized that it was not the finishing line that mattered, it is taking the first step over the start line to venture into the unknown. That is a true Champion. We cannot know all that will challenge us, but that first step says it all. I am ready, and willing, to take on any obstacle. I am Me. Feel my power. I cannot be stopped from believing I am all I can be.

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019. I met 3 IRONMEN.

——

 (*names changed to respect privacy)

 

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