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Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 4.14.28 PMEvery week, Dr. Eric Friedland is fighting to unlock his potential. Eric was born with a congenital degenerative neurological disorder. He has tried experimental drugs and a number of therapists and trainers. He even joined a world-class health center in the hopes of stopping the slow but relentless impact on his nervous system. After ten years of fruitless effort, he felt ready to give up. At the urging of his loved ones, Eric became a resident at Bethany Village. If his condition wouldn’t improve, they thought, he needed to be in a place that could provide help as his condition continued to progress.

After some resistance, Eric agreed. As more and more therapies failed to show results, he was less concerned with where he would live than how he would live. He could tell that his condition, known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disorder, was beginning to worsen. Eric was beginning to feel a little bit desperate.

“I saw in a publication an article about the Bethany Village Fitness Center, and I decided to explore and see what it had to offer,” he remembers.

When Eric first arrived at the Bethany Village Fitness Center, he was unable to walk across the parking lot. CMT was restricting the ability of his peripheral nerve cells to activate muscles and relay information from Eric’s limbs back to his brain. Bethany Village Exercise Physiologist Craig Cole met Eric at his car, helped him into a wheelchair and rolled him through the doors to begin their first session.

“I made him a 3 month promise when he started at the fitness center,” says Craig. “I told him he would be walking into the center by himself. Within 3 months, actually 3 and a half months, he was doing that.”

They started small, working on ankles and strengthening Eric’s legs. Craig’s philosophy hinged on restoring confidence as well as movement. Eric remembers that the early progress was very gradual. After a decade of disappointment, the improvement was unanticipated. It was a thrill.

“I never in a million years thought that there would be growth. I am thinking of how I will spend my remaining years,” says Eric. “At a certain point in your life you are no longer a kid, but it is nice to know that I am stronger and healthier than I was 10 years ago.”

Written by Bethany Lutheran Village

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