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Christopher Reeve's STL Treatment Made History

By Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Actor Christopher Reeve's legacy will include his advocacy for causes related to spinal cord injury. But his own treatment also made history.

A medical journal article in September, 2002, documented Reeve as the first person to ever regain some feeling more than two years after having a spinal cord injury.

He was able to feel pin pricks and cotton swabs touch his skin. John McDonald, of Washington University in St. Louis, developed Reeve's treatment. It was based on the idea that people with such injuries need constant exercise.

McDonald said in an interview in 2002 that moving people's leg's for example, helps the spinal cord remember the motions used in walking. McDonald has since announced plans to leave St. Louis and start a similar spinal cord center in Baltimore.