Ryan Straschnitzki, a 20-year-old hockey player who was involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash is home after undergoing surgery in Thailand. Straschnitzki was paralyzed when the team bus hit a westbound semi-trailer truck on April 6, 2018. 16 people on the bus were killed due to the awful accident.
On Sunday night, Straschnitzki made his way into the Calgary airport from Thailand. He told Global News, “It feels good. I mean I felt that cold, cold wind hit my legs, so I’m feeling good. It’s good to be back.”
Straschnitzki was paralyzed from the chest down in the accident and had to have an epidural stimulator inserted into his spine along with having stem cells injected.
Straschnitzki is quoted saying, “It was incredible. I mean the last time I walked beside my dad was before the accident and before I moved away. So doing that again and just seeing the look in his eyes is motivating to me.”
His father, Tom, said, “When I actually saw him move his leg, it just took me back to imagining his last steps going onto that bus on that fateful day. And I was just thinking maybe he can go back on the bus one day.”
The surgery that Straschnitzki required is not yet approved by Health Canada, or covered by public insurance, so it can cost close to $100,000. Because of this, Straschnitzki and his family had to make the trip to Thailand, unhappy with the Canadian health-care system.
“Our health-care system is kind of lacking in this area for spinal cord injuries and I think it’s huge that Thailand and some other places are getting this started.” Said Straschnitzki hoping to help get the ball rolling on the issue.
Licenced Spinal Cord stimulators are given by Health Canada but are just for pain relief and not for the recovery of motor skills.
“Just getting that feeling of being able to move something that I wasn’t able to move before, and I know core is a huge part of my disability, so anything below my chest is crucial. And after the programming it really helped,” said Straschnitzki.
He is planning to take some time to rest before getting back to the ice and physiotherapy. Straschnitzki is also optimistic about making the Canadian Olympic team for sledge hockey in the future.