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Alberta

‘A work in progress’: Injured Broncos player continues rehab after lockdown

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CALGARY — At first glance it appears that Ryan Straschnitzki, the former Humboldt Broncos hockey player paralyzed from the chest down two years ago in a Saskatchewan bus crash, is paying close attention to the black smartphone in his hand.

But on closer inspection it’s actually the remote controller for the epidural stimulator he had implanted during spinal surgery in Thailand last fall.

The device sends electrical currents to his spinal cord to stimulate nerves and move limbs. On the urging of his physiotherapy team Straschnitzki can kick out his legs — first the left and then the right.

He has had a lot of time to practise with the device while confined to his home in Airdrie, north of Calgary, during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“It’s still a work in progress but it’s getting better than it was,” Straschnitzki says.

Straschnitzki, 21, was hurt when a semi-trailer and the Broncos team bus collided at a rural intersection in Saskatchewan in April 2018. Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured. The truck driver pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Since the crash, Straschnitzki has made it his goal to make the national sledge team and eventually represent Canada at the Olympics. He was scheduled to be a member of Team Alberta at the national championships this spring.

That was before the pandemic hit.

“Not being on the ice for four months now is the hardest part for me. That was my escape and I used that for everything,” he says.

“The physical activity was a place to stress relieve, so it’s been tough and I’m just waiting for the rinks to open again.”

Straschnitzki says fortunately the epidural stimulator is mostly about muscle memory and all the programs he used before the pandemic are still intact.

He’s hoping to improve his range of motion throughout the summer.

“I want to get stronger, get more muscle contractions throughout my whole body and hopefully get more muscles moving that weren’t moving before,” he says.

Uyen Nguyen, executive director of the Synaptic Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Calgary, says the time away hasn’t hurt Straschnitzki’s recovery.

“I think Ryan has done a lot on his own to maintain what he had gained when he was back and I’m hoping this will just be a slight bump in the road and he’ll be able to continue on without too much regression at all with his therapy,” she says.

“I think Ryan has done a great job in maintaining all his gains that it was just a few days of hurt and he’s back and ready to go.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020.

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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press




Alberta

Southern Alberta hailstorm caused almost $1.2B in damage: insurance bureau

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EDMONTON — The powerful hail storm that pounded homes, vehicles and crops across parts of southern Alberta last month caused almost $1.2 billion in insured damage.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says the hail, rain and wind that hit Calgary, Airdrie and Rocky View County on June 13 were part of the costliest hailstorm and the fourth most expensive insured natural disaster in Canadian history.

Hail as big as tennis balls shredded vinyl siding, pounded roofs, smashed windows and flattened crops.

Celyeste Power, a vice-president with the bureau, says insurers are still processing claims.

The bureau says damage caused by hail and wind is typically covered by home, commercial and comprehensive auto insurance policies.

It notes that the Alberta government is offering some support for people who experienced overland flooding in flood-prone areas.

“Albertans know too well the stress, turmoil and financial hardships that severe weather events can cause,” she said Wednesday in a release.

“Of the 10 most costly disasters in Canada, six of these have hit Alberta. Fortunately, Albertans are resilient and continue to come together in difficult times like these.”

The most expensive insured natural catastrophe on record is the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, which cost almost $4 billion.

The next highest loss was the 2013 flooding in southern Alberta at $3.5 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020

 

 

 

 

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta RCMP Officer attacked with own baton

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From Cold Lake RCMP

Cold Lake RCMP officer recovering after aggravated assault

A 44-year-old male is in custody in Cold Lake following yesterday’s violent attack on the RCMP officer trying to effect his arrest.

At 5:30 p.m., Cold Lake RCMP located a stolen vehicle in the Walmart parking lot and the responding officer made an effort to deal with the vehicle and arrest the male who was believed to be responsible.  The male allegedly assaulted the RCMP member by punching the member in the head.  The RCMP member’s baton was taken by the male and the member was struck in the head numerous times with the baton.

The male fled on foot with the RCMP baton. The male smashed the window of a different, occupied vehicle in an unsuccessful attempt to steal it.  He then threatened another driver with a knife and the baton and fled southbound on Highway 28 in the newly stolen Trailblazer.

Cold Lake RCMP initiated a pursuit and managed to cause the stolen Trailblazer to become disabled.  The male was arrested on scene without further incident.  The RCMP baton was recovered in the vehicle.

The RCMP member has been treated at the hospital for non life-threatening, but serious injuries and is recovering at home.

The male remains in police custody and will be facing charges as this investigation continues. An update will be provided when available.

“I want to thank the community members who came forward to assist our RCMP member and to provide valuable witness evidence in relation to this terrible incident” says Sergeant Ryan Howrish of the Cold Lake RCMP.  “An incident like this highlights the unpredictable and dangerous situations we face on a daily basis.”

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july, 2020

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