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2012 ISSUE 1

Playing a Different Tune

Loss leads to finding a new passion.

Tom Naynes slipped and fell on a wet floor one day at work. His right arm and shoulder hit hard, but Haynes went on with his day, thankful nothing was broken. What the 35-year-old non-profit marketing professional didn’t realize was that he’d torn his carotid artery in his neck.

Five days later, after performing with his band at a local bar, Haynes fell again and had a stroke. A clot had formed where his artery was torn and blocked the blood flow to his brain. Luckily, one of Haynes’ bandmates happened to be an ER doctor and was able to quickly determine that he’d had a stroke.

Haynes spent a week in the ICU followed by six weeks of in-patient rehabilitation. During the two years of therapy that followed, Haynes says he tried therapeutic options ranging from traditional to modern and even some complimentary therapies like neuromuscular massage and yoga.

“I’ve tried it all,” Haynes says. However, he still struggles with spasticity, a condition in which the more effort he exerts, the more spastic his muscles become, counteracting that effort. Haynes, now 40, is focused on working toward emotional acceptance—and playing guitar again, a hobby he had pursued since middle school.

“Music and playing in bands has always been a big part of my life,” he says. For several months after his stroke, Haynes had a recurring dream in which he was back on stage playing with his band. The next morning he would pick up his guitar in hopes that the dream was real. “But that was never the case,” he says. “My hand would clamp down on the guitar neck and refuse to move, as if glued there with duct tape.”

Recently, Haynes and his wife, Ann Marie, happened across an open mic night where a husband-wife duo was strumming ukuleles. Haynes approached them after their set and asked if he could see the instrument.

“My heart skipped a beat as I watched my fingers press down with minimal spasticity on those gooey rubber strings,” Haynes says. A few weeks later, for his 40th birthday, Ann Marie gave him a ukulele bass. Today, Haynes is jamming again with some former bandmates.

“There’s no such thing as a ‘normal life,’” he quotes from the movie Tombstone. “There’s just life, ya live it.”


Full range-of-motion exercises at least three times a day combined with frequent repositioning.

Oral Medicines
There are many medicines that treat the general effects of spasticity. These drugs act on multiple muscle groups. Tizanidine inhibits the action of spinal nerve cells, and Dantrolene works directly on muscle cells to decrease spasticity.

Botox injections prevent the release of chemicals that cause muscle contraction. These shots target only specific limbs or muscle groups affected by spasticity.

Intrathecal Medication
Intrathecal Baclofen™ therapy delivers a liquid form of baclofen directly into spinal fluid. A programmable pump is surgically placed below the skin near the abdomen and delivers small doses of medicine.

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