[KHTS] – An Army veteran left wheelchair-bound after military service-related injuries is back on his feet to compete in cycling competitions with the help of Boston Scientific, a Valencia-based medical solutions company.
After the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, Justin Minyard, 34, of Tampa, Fla., was injured when part of the building collapsed on him while he was searching for anyone trapped.
Following his recovery, Minyard was deployed to Iraq, where he sustained additional spinal injuries and was airlifted to the United States.
When he returned from service, Minyard became dependent on opiate pain medications. He missed much of his daughter’s first year of life due to his military service, and he doesn’t remember most of the next two years because of his medication, he said.
“I had no quality of life,” Minyard said. “I was only 29 years old and my career was over. It’s a period I’m very ashamed of and regret very much.”
In a wheelchair and having undergone multiple treatments, the chronic pain persisted, he said.
Minyard decided to then try another way of coping with the pain. He went to a doctor who referred him to spinal cord stimulation.
Minyard currently uses the Precision Spectra, a small implanted medical device that sends tiny pulses to the nerves that mask pain signals as they travel to the brain, producing a tingling sensation that reduces the feeling of pain.
“Using this device, I can control where the pain really goes,” Minyard said. “I can mask the pain by pressing a button.”
Minyard is the founder of Operation Shifting Gears, a nonprofit organization with the goal of helping veterans transition from the military to their civilian life by facilitating their recovery from physical and mental injuries through cycling, according to the news release.
He often competes in cycling competitions, too. He is expected to compete in the Hub On Wheels event on Sunday in Boston where he will ride nearly 100 miles.
Minyard is also expected to compete in the Gran Fondo Italia in Beverly Hills on Sept. 28
“I haven’t taken opiates in four years. One of the best things is that I get to watch my daughter grow up and be a part of her life,” Minyard said. “This is my second chance at life. When I go out and race, it’s a way to show people who have chronic pain that there’s a treatment option that doesn’t make you feel like zombie.”