March 1, 2015


Written by derekherrera

It’s been two months since I have posted. This is the longest time I have had between posts and have been procrastinating so that I could prioritize other things that have kept me busy over the past couple of months. There have been some highs and lows but, on average, many more highs than lows.

I started spending more time at the JF Shea Center for Therapeutic Riding. This center is an organization in Orange County, very close to our house, where I go and ride a horse named ‘Braveheart’ for an hour each week. It is a lot of fun and the staff there is incredibly professional. There are some detailed studies about how Hippotherapy affects people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D) and it certainly helps me with spasticity, pain management and exercise. I highly recommend it for anyone out there and I have heard there are many places to pursue this type of therapy across the country.

I have been exploring the option of utilizing an implanted Baclofen pump that provides a targeted dose of Baclofen intrathecally to the Spinal Cord. There are a lot of benefits associated with the pump, when compared to using the medication orally, and in order to confirm that I would respond to the drug in this manner I had to go in for a lumbar puncture. The procedure went well for the first few hours and I felt great, but very quickly after I left the hospital I started getting headaches, nausea and vertigo. As it turns out, a very small percentage of the population who get lumbar punctures will not heal quickly and this can result in a leak of Cerebro-Spinal Fluid (CSF). This was pretty terrible timing for me and I had to miss some classes to go back in and do another procedure to fix the leak. The procedure worked and I am back to fighting strength.  Ironically, one of the classes I am taking is a Medical Technology Innovation class and the project I was assigned to research was ‘Post-Operative Monitoring of CSF.’  I would like to believe that my aptly timed personal experience with this issue helped me in the classroom on my assignment, but can’t be certain.

In December I made the decision to focus my efforts at becoming an entrepreneur in the Medical Device Industry. I have been developing ideas for some time now and think that they have the potential to make a difference in the quality of life for people with SCI/D someday. After I retired from the Military in November, I started pursuing opportunities to prepare myself for this challenge.

I recently started working part-time with a Medical Device startup called Neural Analytics.  At Neural Analytics we are developing a non-invasive device that will quantify the measurement of mild and moderate TBI. I was fortunate enough to meet the CEO of this company through the UCLA network and have been supporting their growth, while learning a tremendous amount about how to start and run a company in this industry. Most recently, I have been facilitating operations for the company and assisting with strategy. The team is absolutely phenomenal and I am learning new things everyday from these intelligent entrepreneurs.

Today, I landed in Washington DC where I will be all week for business and other engagements. Primarily, I came here to speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Annual Policy Conference. Tomorrow night I will be delivering a short speech at the general session. I am honored to share the stage here with many other incredible speakers who are doing phenomenal things, both in the US and abroad.

Lastly, I have decided to close my FB account. I have created an official FB fan page, that I will continue to update, but will be deactivating my personal account in exactly seven days. If you feel so inclined, please share my new page with anyone you think may be interested. I will also continue to update my twitter and instagram feeds.