Compression stockings/ Venous disorders

“My treatment is exercise”

Compression in unique circumstances

From Bauerfeind Life Magazin

In short Since his accident in the TV show “Wetten, dass...?” in 2010, Samuel Koch has been paralyzed from the neck downwards. In hindsight, the now 34-year-old benefitted from his strict training routine as an extreme athlete and stuntman, which kept him physically and mentally in shape throughout his youth. At the OTWorld congress in Leipzig, he spoke about the “wonderful people” who helped him to develop resilience along with a daily exercise routine, individual compression and a fulfilling career: among other jobs, Samuel Koch is an ensemble member of the Mannheim National Theater, author, speaker at numerous events and supports charities. His association Samuel Koch und Freunde e. V. is intended to help people who care for family members and support them. His conclusion: “Life is full of opportunities.”

A gentle voice, a charming smile and a dash of self-irony: it’s hard to resist Samuel Koch’s charisma. At OTWorld in Leipzig, Germany, he spoke about self-discipline, his fulfilling work and the joy of not being alone.

As an extreme athlete, I’ve always had to help my body,” explains Samuel Koch who has been active as a gymnast and stuntman since his youth. He regularly suffered injuries during both. “I trained to develop the strength to overcome adversity and my weaker self.” Then 2010 happened. He had an accident in the TV show “Wetten, dass..?”. After that, he faced challenges that even the toughest training couldn’t prepare him for. Now at age 34, the quadriplegic has been in a wheelchair since, and says: “My body no longer does what I want, but I try to look after it and care for it. It’s a kind of love-hate relationship.”

Luckily, he realizes in hindsight, everyone kept the full truth from him during his one-year stay at the hospital. It only gradually dawned on the young man that his life would now be completely different than before. “I invested this time of mollycoddling preparation into my physical recovery,” Samuel Koch reports. To get fit to start over, but also to get back to some previous activities. This included continuing his acting degree. “Thanks to professors and fellow students who believed in me” – and made it possible in 2014 for Samuel Koch to be the first person in a wheelchair in Hannover to receive an acting diploma. “Of course, acting has radically changed in my new situation. But I can still convey emotions,” he explains. “The focus is on mental clarity and language, on imagination and intellect.”

“The loss of my mobility doesn’t make my life worthless,” explains Samuel Koch in a discussion at OTWorld in Leipzig.

Unconventional solutions

In addition, Samuel Koch gets invited to many events as a speaker and has published numerous books, including two sequels to the children’s book “Das Kuscheltier-Kommando” (The Stuffed Animal Squad) with his wife. The books are about true strength as well as letting go and saying good-bye. Topics that Samuel Koch was forced to deal with personally. After all, it wasn’t only his approach to acting that had to radically change. His everyday life was also turned upside down. As independent and agile as his mind may be, physically, Samuel Koch needs care around the clock. He relies on unconventional solutions for this. His care staff include, for example, a former film producer, a construction worker and a student. And this is why: “When looking for real heroes, I noticed that expertise in the area of care is not just about training. This job is more, much more, it’s a shared journey,” emphasizes Samuel Koch. “It’s all about empathy, sensitivity and resilience. I need companions.”

How he deals with his handicapped body is also unconventional: “I have stopped taking all medication. My treatment is exercise.” Exercise? Exactly. Samuel Koch’s mandatory program includes regular training standing up and physiotherapy. His acting career is also physically demanding, such as crossing the stage stuck to a colleague or being suspended upside down. Together with his brother, a physical therapist, he created “the first mobility videos for the immobile” and uploaded them to YouTube. But conventional methods, such as compression, are also part of his treatment. Depending on how he feels on any given day, Samuel Koch alternates between different designs like knee-high or thigh-high stockings, but also sometimes does without when he pursues one of his other passions – swimming. Another medical aid for vein decongestion is his wheelchair, which he controls himself. Its foot support can be electrically adjusted to raise his legs. His conclusion: “I may depend on help but I’m not helpless.”

Motivated by “wonderful people”

When asked by somebody from the audience in Leipzig how he regains strength, Samuel Koch has several answers. “First of all, it helps to focus on what is possible rather than on what isn’t.” But what is even more important: “I’ve always had and have wonderful people around me who I gave the permission early on to give me a kick in the butt,” he explains with a smile. From friends and family, professors and fellow students to his care team: they all motivate him, give him mental strength and activate his resilience. But being alone every now and then or finding peace in nature is also part of it. And not least, it’s a great fulfillment for him to work in his dream profession as an actor. He also hopes this can happen for all others in a similar situation. “Life is full of opportunities. I hope everyone can find something that makes them happy.”

An encouraging man in a wheelchair

Samuel Koch, born in 1987 in Rhineland-Palatinate, studied acting in Hannover. Since his accident that happened during the TV show “Wetten, dass…?” in 2010, he has been paralyzed from the neck down. Today, he is a part of Mannheim National Theater and can be seen in TV productions and movies. He is currently working on his “Zero G Tour”, which is scheduled to start in May 2023. In addition, Samuel Koch is a sought-after speaker, he has published several books and supports charitable organizations. His association “Samuel Koch und Freunde e.V.” is intended to help people who care for family members and support them. For more information about Samuel Koch and his association, please visit: www.samuel-koch.com

Images: Bauerfeind/Andreas Wetzel

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