by Matt Soergel
When artist Sandra Murphy-Pak could no longer move her arms to paint, she began using the toes of her right foot, dipping them in paint and applying the paint to the canvas. Her condition has worsened, and six years after noticing the first symptoms of ALS, she can no longer move her foot, or anything else other than her face muscles. She uses a machine to help her breathe. Yet she continues to paint, using a sling for her foot and directing a friend who moves it for her. A collection of her recent art — it’s called “Footwork” — is on display at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, where she returned this week to work on another venture, one that could give ALS patients a little more independence in their lives. It’s dubbed the Xavier Project, after the scientific genius in a wheelchair played by Patrick Stewart in the X-Men movies. Murphy-Pak is one of a small number of pioneering patients in clinical trials being conducted by Mayo and Limbitless Solutions, a nonprofit affiliated with the University of Central Florida.
Context: Bjorn Oskarsson, M.D. is a Mayo clinic neurologist.
Contact: Natalie Halpern