Ever since he fell 21 feet from a deer stand, Blake Barber of Vicksburg has been wearing “a big Ninja Turtle shell.”

At least that’s what his 2-year-old son, Mason, calls the chest-to-waist brace. 

At Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, the equipment is known as a thoracic lumbar sacral orthosis. It’s the default fashion for patients whose spines have been pieced back together with rods and screws.

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When he ran hurdles for Montgomery High School in Kilmichael, Stevelyn Robinson never took practice jumps at a track meet.

He wanted to see the flabbergasted faces as his 5-foot frame flew over chest-high hurdles and past much taller opponents.

Today, the Winona teen still likes surprising people, but now it’s all about proving what’s possible after a paralyzing spinal cord injury.

Merry Claire Wardlaw of Flowood said she’ll never forget what happened the night she gave Stevelyn tickets to a Germantown High School football game.

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He goes to class, studies hard, hits the gym, cheers on the Bulldogs on game day and even finds a little time to party in the Cotton District.

Trainor Storey rarely stands still, like most 20-year-old students at Mississippi State University.

But just a year ago, his life was at a standstill.

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“Hey, what are you doing?” 

If Robyn Thomas had answered that text, the reply might have been: Fighting for my life.

On May 21, 2012, the Snow Lake teen was found trapped in her silver Ford Fusion, the victim of a brain-damaging crash. 

“We believe she looked down at her phone and hit a tree going 60 miles per hour,” said her mother, Kim. 

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Jay Killen couldn’t see with his eyelids sewn shut.

He couldn’t talk with a breathing tube down his throat.

And he sure as heck couldn’t move.  All his muscles—even those that control blinking—had been put on strike by a strange, head-to-toe paralysis.

So the Horn Lake man could only listen in horror as doctors discussed removing his life support.

“I overheard them tell my wife, Amanda, that they wanted to take me off my feeding tube and ventilator. I thought: Oh my God.”

And Amanda thought: Oh no you won’t give up on my husband.

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The Wilson Research Foundation announced today the appointment of Lyn McMillin of Madison to its board of governors.  The foundation supports Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, helping establish Methodist as a center of excellence through its patient-focused research program.   

Ginny Wilson Mounger, chairperson of the board, said, “Lyn is a wonderful leader and community servant.  She will be a tremendous asset to our mission to sustain and grow the life-changing research program at Methodist Rehab.”

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Since he started wheelchair fencing two years ago, Josh Russell of Mendenhall has had a lot of firsts.

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The place that would forever change Justin Howell’s life is as much a part of Pike County summers as heat and mosquitoes.

“Just about everybody from around here has been to the Bogue Chitto River at least once,” said the Summit native.

Above a popular swimming hole on the river, a rope swing dangles over a 20-foot embankment. It’s where a few seconds of thrill seeking left Howell paralyzed from the shoulders down.

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Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetics in Flowood had a mission: to assemble a team of athletes with disabilities and make a splash at the annual Endeavor Games.

Mission accomplished—Team Methodist O&P brought home 12 gold medals, four silver medals and a bronze at the event, which took place June 6-9 in Oklahoma City.

“Our goals were absolutely exceeded,” said Jennifer Long, a certified prosthetist who serves as the team’s leader.  “We went out there with the hopes of introducing some of them to sport and it opened up their eyes to a whole new world.”

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“Loss of confidence” isn’t an official symptom of Parkinson’s disease.

But for Barbara Jones of Smithdale, feeling “weak and helpless” was as much a part of Parkinson’s as her frequent and debilitating falls.

“I broke my knee cap, collar bone and busted my head open,” said the 67-year-old retiree.

The tumbles were related to muscle stiffness and unsteadiness associated with the neurological disease. And Jones had no clue how to prevent them.

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