BLOG ~ Come Sail Away!

Adaptive Sailing is Good for You
Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 3 09 50 PM (3)

Paralympic Sailors 368 Dan Nerney/Clagett Regatta

Sailing is a sport that everyone does sitting down, and adaptive sailing is not a new sport.  It’s even part of the Olympics. However, new research has found that using a virtual sailing simulator on dry land enabled people with SCI to gain confidence before hitting the water.  In addition, the study found that learning to sail had therapeutic benefits for both body and mind.

Researchers at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD published the results of their research in a recent issue the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.  Once on the water, participants were able to perform specific sailing maneuvers such as steering the course, sail trimming, tacking, jibbing and mark rounding. They described their on-water experiences as “exhilarating and great fun”. They added Continue reading

Go in Feet First — Don’t Dive

“Diving is simply not worth the risk,” says Dr. Herndon Murray, medical director of Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 2.24.22 PMShepard Center’s SCI program. “The only safe dive is the one you don’t take. This is an entirely preventable catastrophe. Go into water feet first every time.”

Diving is the fourth leading cause of spinal cord injury for men and the fifth for women, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Teenagers are especially vulnerable. Surprisingly, one-third of diving injuries happen at the beach when someone runs into the water and dives headfirst into the waves.

Dr. Murray’s advice to go in feet first and, “break a leg, not your neck,” is at the heart of a successful diving injury prevention campaign in the state of Georgia. Over the past ten years, it has cut the number of spinal cord injuries in half.

When you dive, your body is like a torpedo. When you jump in, the body has a more stable Continue reading

Parents on Call – a reprint in honor of Father’s Day

FB profile (3)


In honor of Father’s Day, we are proud to share the thoughtful, provocative and honest voice of Jeff Shannon. Jeff was a veteran writer on disability issues, who wrote frequently for our blog. He was also a C-5/6 quad, who was injured in 1979. He passed away in late 2013. Jeff was 52.

I’ll never forget the last time my father helped me. It was a typical situation, repeated dozens if not hundreds of times over the previous three decades: Something would go wrong in the afternoon or evening, and my mornings-only caregiver would be unavailable to return for off-hours assistance. Most of the time, my dad would be available, sometimes reluctantly, but available nonetheless. He was not the kind of guy who could easily say “no” to his children — especially to his youngest son who’d been paralyzed at the age of 17.

That last time was no different, with one major exception: At the time, shortly before Thanksgiving of 2010, neither dad nor anyone else was aware that he was dying. We knew he was ailing, but the extent of his illness was unknown, even by his doctors. Pancreatic cancer was a prime suspect, but a firm diagnosis remained stubbornly elusive. Dad felt tired, and was suffering from mild abdominal pain, but he was the kind of guy who’d remain stoical about how he was feeling. He didn’t want to worry anyone, so there he was, late on a dark, blustery November afternoon, arriving at my house as he had countless times before, responding to my call for help. (More often than not, this involved a quick clean-up and change of pants; you can guess the rest.)

This time something was obviously wrong. Dad was clearly lacking energy, and pain was draining what little vitality remained. As he was getting me dressed and helping me get transferred back into my wheelchair, I watched him struggle and, for the first time in over 30 years, he needed a few breaks to rest.

Was I “Taking Advantage”?

Jerry  Jeff @ Family Reunion 8-1-09 (3)As he rested, I was struck by a tidal wave of guilt and shame. I’d felt that way before, less severely, when I’d relied too heavily on my dad’s good-natured availability. Despite his weakened condition I had placed my needs above his, and as dad sat on my bed, tired and quietly frustrated, all I could think was that I was a lousy and selfish son who had exploited my father’s devotion for decades. I had never taken his kindness for granted, but for a variety of reasons I had allowed myself to expect and depend on it.

Continue reading

Jumping is Nice — But Think Twice

hometrampoline (3)As summer approaches, parents worry about trampoline injuries. Their worries are justified.

Trampoline use is a frequent cause of spinal cord injuries with two-thirds of injuries reported in children between the ages of 6, and 14 and 15% of injuries reported in children under the age of 6, according to the American Spinal Injury Association. In fact, the risk of injury is so high that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly discourages using trampolines at home. Continue reading

New Challenge to Guinness World Record

For Longest Wheelchair Line
FD blog

Lee Isaacs and Myrna Peterson

UPDATE — Myrna Lee Mania “Come Roll With Us” smashes world record.

The formation of the world’s largest moving wheelchair line was a success! Peterson and Isaacs shattered the previous Guinness World Record of 193 wheelchairs in motion by 157 chairs — for a total of 350 rolling “wheelers”. Bystanders jumped in when pushers were required and moved barricades back when more room was needed.

See the original article below…

The Guinness World Record for longest wheelchair line is about to be challenged. Two long-time companions from Grand Rapids, MN, both in wheelchairs, want to break that record.

Disability activist, Myrna Peterson, and her friend Lee Isaacs were injured in separate accidents 20 years ago. They share a special bond in their mission.

“We were both injured on the exact same day, we’re both from Deer Lake, both airlifted to Duluth, both had the same surgeons and both came back home,” says Peterson, a retired teacher and mother of four. Continue reading

Paralyzed Vet Walks Again

Using Robotic Device at Home

RJ at RIC 3R.J. Anderson, injured in 2012 in an accident that left him with quadriplegia, walked out the door of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) a few days ago with the help of an exoskeleton called the ReWalk.

ReWalk is a device powered hip and knee motion to enable people with spinal cord injuries to stand upright and walk. It provides mobility by integrating a wearable brace support, a computer-based control system and motion sensors. The system allows independent, controlled walking while mimicking the natural gait patterns of the legs.

Continue reading

Architect Michael Graves

Health Care Design Leader

Michael Graves, the prominent American architect who was one of the fathers of postmodern design, died on March 14 at the age of 80. Although he designed more than 350 buildings around the world and a host of elegant everyday household items, he is less well known for his commitment to mobility equipment and health care design.

In 2003, Graves was paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a spinal cord infection. During his rehab, he was surprised to discover that he could not turn on a faucet, open the medicine cabinet or reach the electrical outlet to plug in his electric shaver.

Continue reading

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury

What do the Experts Say?

A new, two-part series intended to be a starting point for a basic understanding of the Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 10.54.13 AM normal functions of the spinal cord and how they might change after an injury, has just been released. It’s a publication of the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC), which has collaborated with 14 of the best SCI research hospitals across the nation, to put the information into plain language that everyone can easily understand and apply in their everyday life.

Continue reading

Sex, Women and SCI

Our article appears in New Mobility Magazine

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 2.16.14 PMMost SCI/sex information after an injury is geared toward men: performance enhancing drugs, male fertility, catheters, penile implants, etc. Women are often told little beyond the fact that they are still able to have children. But we find out there is much, much more.

The article, written by our Executive Producer, Stephanie Lollino, focuses on how women with SCI are now using the internet for information about sex.

Continue reading

Top 10 SCI Research

Questions For 2015

top10What are the most important questions that new research can answer about spinal cord injuries?

The editors of the highly respected British medical research journal, Lancet Neurology, decided to find out. They started with over 700 questions posed by 400 respondents, more than half of whom have spinal cord injuries.

Continue reading