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  Rummerfield spotlighted in museum

By Gila Z. Reckess

Patrick Rummerfield's story has motivated and inspired individuals with paraplegia and tetriplegia for decades. Now, his metamorphic recovery from complete paralysis to competitive athlete will be showcased at the Pathological Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Scotland.

In 1974, Rummerfield, now the director of performance assessment in the Spinal Cord Injury Program of the rehabilitation division in the School of Medicine, was paralyzed from the neck down after a motor vehicle collision. His magnetic resonance imaging scans, which will be part of the museum's medical display, reveal damage to more than 80 percent of his spinal cord at C3-4, a point near the top of the cervical spinal cord in the neck.

Despite permanent nervous system damage and an extremely bleak prognosis, Rummerfield has slowly rehabilitated himself. Not only can he walk and strength-train both his upper and lower body, he also competes in marathons and triathlons and broke the world land-speed record for an electric car by reaching more than 245 mph.

Rummerfield now works with John W. McDonald III, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology and of neurological surgery and director of the Spinal Cord Injury Neurorehabilitation Program in the School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis, to help other patients undergoing rehabilitation.

"Pat is an amazing individual and represents a tremendous amount of hope each time he walks into a patient's room," McDonald said.

Rummerfield also works closely with University physicians to promote seat-belt safety, helmet protection and safety in youth sports. In addition, he has helped develop the NextSteps Foundation (www., the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation ( and Gateway to a Cure (www., which raise public awareness and funds for spinal cord injury research.