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In Christopher Reeve’s footsteps:Young man beats the odds


2 Star

In Christopher Reeve’s footsteps:Young man beats the odds

Our Review Summary

This segment on locomotor training for spinal cord injuries is a human interest story focused on one person’s experience with the treatment and failed to reference any research or provide quantitative data on its efficacy.  There was also no acknowledgement that spinal cord injuries vary in severity and prognoses, leaving viewers with no insight as to who would most benefit from this treatment and to what degree.  This story also failed to provide commentary from independent voices; cost information; a discussion of potential harms; or mention of existing alternatives and their outcomes. 

Without providing any evidence from the literature and relying solely on anecdotal information, this segment falsely raises hope, only adding further frustration and insult to injury.



Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention of the cost of locomotor training or whether it is covered by insurance.      

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

This segment only focused on one person’s experience and did not provide any data on treatment benefits or harms.   

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

This segment did not mention any harms associated with locomotor training.  Adverse events reported in the literature suggest that some patients may experience tendon or joint injuries, pain, or extreme fatigue. 

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

To present this anecdotal story as a realistic option without providing any evidence regarding its efficacy is irresponsible, especially considering how elusive therapy can be for spinal cord injuries.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

This story did not engage in disease mongering, but only because it did not adequately define the disease.  It is not clear if a specific type of spinal cord injury or if all types would respond to this treatment.  This segment over-hyped the treatment without telling us exactly whom it’s for. 


Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The segment features interviews with Dr. Harkema, who developed locomotor training, as well as a representative from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, both of whom are invested in a new center offering this treatment modality.  An independent voice would have helped distinguish this from an infomercial.   

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

This story did not provide any information on other treatment modalities for spinal cord injury rehabilitation.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


This story suggests that this treatment modality is not widely available.  

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The segment adequately conveys that this is a relatively new therapy in spinal cord injury; however, a discussion on how this compares to other therapies to restore ambulation would have been useful.   

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

There does not appear to be a news release associated with this story.

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory


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