The ATV accident that changed my life
By Rita Patterson, Department of Family Medicine
The ATV rolled onto his leg, crushing it. He hollered for help until a neighbor heard him and called 911.
The next year was a painful slog of related medical problems and rehabilitation that ultimately resulted in the amputation of his leg. Les went on long-term disability and had to leave his job as a plant manager.
I was no stranger to the many ways lost mobility impacts lives. Ironically, the study of movement and pursuit of novel treatments for people with function and balance problems is precisely what I do at UNT Health Science Center.
Trained as a biomedical engineer, I joined UNTHSC in 2007 and oversaw development of the Human Movement Performance Laboratory. This innovative and collaborative lab uses advanced technology to discover ways to improve the quality of life for amputees, children and adults with autism, stroke victims, people with diabetes and Parkinson’s disease and more.
I had always empathized with the research participants I encountered, of course. They are the focus of my life’s work. But, as Les and I adjusted to his limited mobility, I learned some things that deepened my passion for the people we try to help.
I learned that many otherwise mundane tasks — like simply bathing —can require gigantic effort for a person with limited mobility. I learned that knowing when to help someone and when to let him or her accomplish a task alone is important.
I learned how people with disabilities are often treated in public. Some store owners seem to believe they are all poor and have no money. Other people have an underlying perception that they are dumb and or must have cognitive problems.
When I talk to research participants or their families, I am able to tell them: “I understand how you feel. We have been through that, too.”
My husband’s accident was eight years ago. Today, Les walks on a prosthetic leg and has developed a passion for people with prostheses. He founded the Fort Worth Amputee Coalition, a support group that and has achieved nonprofit status.
Just last night, he went to a group meeting and it drew 17 people with prostheses. They are raising money to help provide prostheses for children as they age into adults.
In a sense, we now share the same goal — to help people move a little better in this world.
Rita Patterson, PhD, is a Professor of Family Medicine, Director of Research for the Department of Manipulative Medicine and Director of the Human Movement Performance Laboratory.
By Alex Branch University of North Texas quarterback Mason Fine faked a handoff and threw a perfect 60-yard touchdown pass to a streaking receiver, and the Mean Green sideline erupted. Players leaped off the bench, coaches pumped their fists and the cheerleaders hugged. Everyone inst...Read more
Sep 18, 2018
By Alex Branch A UNT Health Science Center professor is preparing physical students to provide innovative care that can improve the quality of life for the nearly 1 million Americans expected to have Parkinson’s disease by 2020. Howe Liu, PT, PhD, Professor of Physical Therapy, pa...Read more
Sep 17, 2018
By Jan Jarvis In 1998, a team of researchers that included Abe Clark, PhD, won worldwide recognition for its discovery of the first gene that causes glaucoma. Two decades later, the same team has found a possible treatment for this blinding eye disease. “We’ve gone from discov...Read more
Sep 13, 2018
By Jan Jarvis One drug treats hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia. Another treats complicated intra-abdominal infections. And a third treats skin infections. These are among the many drugs that Jerry Simecka, PhD, has evaluated as part of the discovery process since establishing th...Read more
Sep 12, 2018