Cival Mills: Man with Locked-In Syndrome Lives to Inspire

cival mills

Cival Mills was diagnosed with “locked-in syndrome” a decade ago — but despite his immobility, he’s written two books and provided great inspiration to others.

Ten years ago, 26-year-old Cival Mills was just days away from finishing his hospital internship in South Africa, looking forward to a bright future in medicine. But on December 8th, 2000, he was involved in a serious car crash – and when he finally awoke in the hospital, he discovered that he was unable to move a single muscle.

He had locked-in syndrome: the condition made famous by The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, in which a person is completely conscious, yet unable to move anything except his eyes.

“All I could hear was the sound of the different machines keeping me alive. And when I fell asleep I had terrible recurring dreams,”Dr. Mills recalled to The Daily Mail.

“I remember thinking: “This can not be forever, please don’t let this be forever.’”

In the decade since, although Dr. Mills has not completely recovered from the condition, he has defied all of his doctors’ expectations.

He first learned to communicate by using his eye movements to “type” words on a spelling chart – a time-consuming process, but well worth it. His first sentence was, “Love you, mom.”

After two years of physical therapy, he regained movement in his left thumb, which he used to write an account of his story – This Too Shall Pass.

Now, after many years of physical therapy as well as experimental stem cell transplants, Dr. Mills can turn his head, move his left arm, and has a slight range of motion in his legs. And he’s proven that his disabilities don’t have to stop him from doing anything he wants to do: He’s recently completed another book, has ridden cross-country on a specially adapted quad bike, and even started scuba diving.

“I want to convince the medical world there is no such thing as a hopeless case,” Dr Mills said. “If you lose hope you have lost your chance for a better future.”

Learn more about Dr. Cival Mills at his website.

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