dr Roman Olejniczak

I have been working with neurological patients for nearly 15 years. They are often patients with cognitive difficulties with no verbal contact with the outside world. About 5 years ago, with a little help from my friends, I started using the so-called Cyber-eye (C-eye) system in my work. This equipment proves that the majority of comatose or vegetative state patients are able to communicate with the outside world. This reinforces our efforts and strengthens our belief that what we do makes absolute sense. I believe that the most beautiful thing in the world, next to my family, is to see tears of joy in my paraplegic and quadriplegic patients’ eyes when they are taking their first steps following a severe brain damage or stroke. It is hard to put into words the happiness the patients and their families are feeling.

Being able to witness these histories brings joy to my life and gives me strength and power to help more people. I was born in 1974 when many children had problems with hip joints – they suffered from rickets, and I was one of them. I had to wear a plaster cast for 3.5 years that had to be replaced every 2 weeks to prevent my skin from infections. I remember my mum who was drying my legs with a hair blower. It was not until I was 3.5 years old that I finally started taking my first steps. Professor Koprowski was making sure that I was doing progress, but if it had not been for my parents, especially my mum who was so stubborn, caring and hugely engaged, I would probably have never walked again. At the age of 13 I started training Taekwondo ITF and had the best coaches I could have dreamt of: Zbigniew Sępa and Bogdan Jackowski. Andrzej Bryl with whom I was going to survival camps had a huge impact on my physical and mental development. Taekwondo taught me how to live and behave, and to analyse; how to lose and how to win. I also practiced running – I run a couple of marathons, semi-marathons and cross-country runs. Another sports passion of mine is riding a bike, and many more. A book written by Bruce Lee titled ‘Tao of Jeet Kune Do’ had a huge impact on me as well. It taught me how to analyse the human body and the way it is moving. This book also helped me establish my code of ethics and my code of conduct, while my faith allowed me to put all the different pieces together and live my life by helping others. As a 20-year-old man I wanted to go to Asia to learn more about the philosophy of Taekwondo, but I could not afford it at that time. Shortly after I injured my spine quite severely. I was devastated, my life literally stopped, the more so that the diagnosis was almost catastrophic: lower limb paralysis and constrictor muscles dysfunction. I had to have a surgery or otherwise I would end up in a wheelchair. I was extremely lucky to have met an athletics coach who happened to be an expert in injuries and rehabilitation. He recommended some exercises and said that probably I would not be able to return to practicing sport to the same extent as before the injury, but he did not say it was entirely impossible either. After a couple of weeks I noticed that my condition improved, which, given the initial diagnosis, was nearly a miracle. These exercises, which I now know very well, were aimed at improving my central stability. This experience truly fascinated me to the extent that I decided to study physiotherapy. Since everything in my life happens for a reason, I wrote my PhD thesis on the subject of my own condition. It was titled: ‘Fascial techniques in the treatment of sciatica’. With the help of a remarkable promoter, professor Zdzisława Wrzosek, I was awarded my PhD. I was extremely lucky in pursuing my professional career, because I had the most wonderful mentors, including Tomasz Kabała – my physiotherapy teacher to whom I owe my knowledge and experience. Through Tomasz I met Aleksander Kucza several years later, and through Aleksander I met international teachers and instructors, including professor Maciej Krawczyk, Dr. Jarosław Ciechomski, Marianne Lawton from Canada, John Mohr from the U.S., Rainer Schönhut from Germany, and many more extraordinary therapists. Each day of my professional career has been filled with passion for working with my patients.