FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– A student at the University of Colorado Boulder is spending his senior year at home in Fort Collins, fighting to walk again. Four months ago, he suffered a rare spinal stroke and is now in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the chest down.
His prognosis is uncertain, but 22-year-old James Campbell is determined to fully recover.
“I never saw this in my future,” James told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
James was healthy and athletic. He was an active outdoorsman, a fraternity brother, a CU business major. But on Sept. 20, 2020, alone in his Boulder apartment, he was helpless.
“I was watching the Broncos/Steelers game,” he said. “I thought I had mono, like my neck was just stiff … felt a little weird. That’s basically all I remember.”
James suffered a rare spinal stroke (they account for 1.25% of all strokes). The blood supply to his spinal cord was cut off. He couldn’t move from his couch or call for help.
“I was left in that same spot for 19 hours,” he said. “At that point, I was already paralyzed.”
Found by his girlfriend, James was eventually rushed to UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. He says he had blood clots, low blood pressure, needed oxygen and his kidneys were failing.
“They didn’t know if I was going to live or not,” James said.
After three weeks in intensive care, he spent more than two months in world renowned Craig Hospital. He began aggressive therapy in a community of hope and possibilities.
“Spinal cord injuries are like snowflakes, they’re all different,” he said.
James has seen some progress. While paralyzed from the chest down, he has some skin sensation, some control of his arms and finger movement.
“It’s hard, the outlook is unsure,” he said.
James wakes up every day with severe neck pain. He works hard to stay positive. His army of supporters is raising money to help purchase adaptive equipment and make his home accessible. They consider James a true warrior.
For James, “It’s a battle every single day. You have no choice but to get up and fight.”
To contribute to James’ recovery go to: https://givebutter.com/James_Campbell_ANewHope