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.

After three years of rehab, hard work and determination, Anderson was given the life-changing—opportunity to participate in a study investigating the implications of exoskeleton use at home outside of a rehab environment. The project was made possible by an anonymous $70,000 donation, and being able to use the ReWalk at home has already made a dramatic difference in Anderson’s life. It “allowed me to just feel better, be better and improve my quality of life,” he said.

Through this experiment, research scientists at RIC are testing the potential long-term benefits devices such as the ReWalk could have on individuals with SCI. They hope they could help with preventing secondary conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, renal failure, and urinary tract infection, according to RIC researcher Dr. Arun Jayraman.

In the meantime, Anderson continues to push himself. “I would like to get proficient in the device and be able to use it proficiently in the community, walk maybe to the store with it. To be able to stand at home, reach things in cabinets, possibly cook, just being back on my feet. The idea of that is amazing.” For now, he’s still taking it step-by-step.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Dr. Henry B. Betts


Henry-B-Betts-Obit-PhotoDr. Henry B. Betts, a giant of rehabilitation medicine, passed away on Jan. 4, 2015 in Chicago. He was 86.

“He was an extraordinarily gifted person, a tireless and compassionate physician and a remarkably thoughtful and passionate individual,” remembers Dr. Joanne C. Smith, CEO of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

“Dr. Betts was one of the first people I consulted for guidance,” said Thea Flaum, founder and creator of the “His wise advice, insights and belief in the website remain an inspiration to us today.”

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“I Am Not Your Inspiration”

Remembering Stella Young -- A Re-Post

BlogStella Young, a comedian, journalist and disability advocate, died unexpectedly last month. In her honor, we’d like to share a blog post we wrote last summer on her powerful TED speech, in which she discussed a few of the backward misconceptions some have of people living with disabilities. Also be sure to watch her talk from TED located at the bottom of this post.

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Pictures of People With Disabilities

Featured on New Website

Positive images of people enjoying all aspects of life while sitting in their wheelchairs have historically been hard to find. But no longer.


Image Courtesy Rachelle Chapman Friedman

Rachelle Friedman, who was injured at her own bachelorette party after being playfully pushed into a swimming pool, is promoting a new website that features compelling images of wheelchair users involved in everyday life.

Jennifer Frankfurter for PhotoAbility

They include pictures of people using wheelchairs while enjoying energetic sports activities, traveling to exotic places and of families just having fun together.

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Giving Thanks

Remembering Jeff Shannon; A re-post from November 2013.

FB profile (3)Jeff was a veteran writer on disability issues, a longtime movie reviewer and film historian as well as a regular contributor to Jeff was also a C-5/6 quad, who was injured in 1979 at age 17. We are proud to have the thoughtful, provocative and honest voice of Jeff Shannon, and in his memory, would like to share his 2013 Thanksgiving FacingDisability blog post, “Giving Thanks on the 2-for-1 Plan.”


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Pain After Spinal Cord Injury —

What Do The Experts Say?

A new fact sheet that summarizes the latest medical advice about dealing with pain after SCI has just been released. It’s a publication of the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC), which has collected data about pain from the 14 best SCI research hospitals across the nation, and put it into plain language that people can understand and use in their everyday lives.

Pain_after_SCI_iStock_000019355827XSmallHere is a brief summary:

A majority of people with SCI experience varying types of pain, both in areas with normal sensation as well as in areas that have little or no feeling. The pain is very real. It can come and go, and negatively impact the lives of patients’ even years after they’ve been rehabilitated. The fact sheet outlines these steps for dealing with pain.

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