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9/17/13 WBRZ 2 Your Health News Story regarding former patient Wess Anderson

Paralyzed Saxophone Player Gets His Sound Back

BATON ROUGE - Saxophonist Wessel "Warmdaddy" Anderson is able to play again, after recovering from a stroke that left the right side of his body paralyzed.

"The worst thing is probably, actually, getting into a hospital and understanding that you cannot move," he explained. "I didn't believe I'd be walking, I thought alright this is it."

Anderson spent more than 30 years as a professional sax player before the stroke last November. He spent 20 years playing with musical great Wynton Marsalis and is still the first string alto saxist with Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

"Regardless of if somebody says you might not ever play ever again, in my mind I said, oh no, I spent 30 years trying to develop this, I'm going to do something," Anderson said.

After the stroke he spent ten weeks at the Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital with a team of therapists working with him each day. He re-learned how to function on his own, to speak and to walk. At first he couldn't sit up on his own, or produce even a single note on his saxophone.

Anderson's therapists all agreed that his passion to get back to playing was key in his speedy recovery.

"Playing the saxophone was something that was really huge for him," said said speech language pathologist Angela Wascom, "and we really worked on getting the lips tight so that he could blow into the mouth piece, and just having that, knowing that he wanted to play again really increased his drive."

Therapists used three types of electrical stimulation to help Anderson's muscles gain strength, including a therapy method used on actor Christopher Reeve to help force their legs to pedal a stationary bike and stimulation to retrain throat muscles.

"It just made the muscles contract to strengthen them in addition to exercises," explained Wascom.

Less than a year later, Anderson regained about 90 percent of the use of his right side. He says he's still numb from his head to his toes on his right side, but at least he's got his sound back.

He's performing at the Manship theatre Thursday at 7:30pm with "an Evening of Jazz with George Bell and Friends". For more information on the show call (225) 344-0334 or visit

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Spinal Cord Injury Survivor Shares Motivational Story at Free Lunch & Learn

BATON ROUGE, La. – As part of National Rehabilitation Awareness week, Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital (BRRH) will host a September 17 Lunch and Learn event featuring Paul Erway, spinal cord injury survivor and motivational speaker.

Erway had his first life-changing accident in 1980, with a second major accident in 2006. His story is unique, but his insights are relevant to anyone, regardless of abilities or disabilities.

He is the author of “50 Abilities, Unlimited Possibilities: Wheeling through the 50 States, from Jackson to the Boston Marathon Bombing.” In the book, Erway chronicles his team on their goal to complete 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks through the Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation.

The noon event will be held at BRRH, in the 2nd floor dining room. Seating is limited, so to RSVP please call (225) 231-3123 or email

BRRH will host multiple events as part of National Rehab Week, including the Roll On! Bowl On! Bowling Tournament on Sept. 17 to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries and an Amputee Support Group meeting on Sept. 20. Find more details here.

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