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Success Stories - Living with SCI/D

Most people progress greatly after their SCI happens. Here are some of their stories.

1. Continuing rehabilitation success After SCI

1.1. Nick Scott-rewalking, body-building

Nick Scott was injured in a motor vehicle accident. He walked accross the stage for to receive his college degree after 6 1/2 years or rehabilitation. Video of Nick's story.

1.2. Patrick Iveson at project Walk/Surfing assistance dog

Patrick was only fourteen months old when he was hit by a car and suffered a C4 incomplete spinal cord injury. He has been using a wheelchair since then. But the injury hasn't hampered his spirit. 

Full story about Patrick  

This is a great video showing how Ricochet "The Surf Dog" who is helping others raise money to possibly help Patrick walk again someday!



2. Education Success After SCI

2.1. Medical students with disabilities-on Facebook

Medical students with disabilities on Facebook

3. Stories of Success After SCI/D

3.1. Barry Corbet video selections

Fanlight Productions has available a selection of motivational videos from or involving Barry Corbet.

3.2. Bert Burns /The Blessing of A Spinal Cord Injury

When Bert Burns suffered a life-changing injury in his 20s after being thrown from his car during an accident, no one would have blamed him if he decided life as he knew it was over. Facing his future as a quadriplegic, he could have easily viewed the outcome as the end rather than a beginning. Instead, Bert discovered his spinal cord injury to be a blessing in disguise, allowing him to realize dreams that he never would have had before being injured.

 After completing rehabilitation, Bert went on to:                                                 
·         Meet the love of his life, Joy, and raise two beautiful children with her
·         Compete as a wheelchair athlete on a global scale for 15 years, winning numerous international events including a gold medal at the 1992 Paralympics
·         Create and lead one of the largest urology medical supply companies in the country
·         Positively influence hundreds of disabled youth and adults through motivational speaking programs over the last 20 years

Today, Bert is renowned throughout the healthcare field as the founder of UroMed, an industry-leading catheter supply company that assists thousands of people nationwide who face similar circumstances and challenges due to Neurogenic Bladder, Spinal Cord Injury, Spina Bifida or Multiple Sclerosis.

His work now primarily centers around UroMed's non-profit, educational program called Life After Spinal Cord Injury, a motivational program that takes place in rehabilition hospitals and other locations to assist disabled youth and adults who have recently learned they will be using a wheelchair.

3.3. Bill Miller-Return to College & work with C 1-2 vent-dependent quadriplegia

Hello from a C 1-2 quadriplegic,

Bill Miller completed his degree in business management and developed, along with others the IKAN bowling system all with a C 1-2 SCI that requires him to use mechanical ventilation. Read his story here!

3.4. Bonnie McGuire-World traveler and wife, living with paraplegia

 "May You Have an Interesting Wife!" is a memoir of both Bonnie and Michael McGuire. Bonnie was already a great world traveler until she fell down a Mayan pyramid in Mexico, sustaining T-5 complete paraplegia. She never expected to travel the world again after her injury until she met and married Michael. Their's is a love story, a travelogue, a history lesson and is also filled with great perspectives on life and successful relationships. 

"May You Have an Interesting Wife!" is available for purchase and formatted for Kindle and Nook: Amazon digital version and the Barnes and Noble digital version

A PDF version of this self-published book is attached to this page. It was made available to members and their friends by the book's author, Michael.


Michael McGuire


3.5. Bret Neylon-Return to teaching / track coaching with C 3/4 quadriplegia

Bret Neylon is in his 19th year of coaching, the past 17 at Brownsburg High School in Indiana. Coach has the distinction of being the fastest coach on power wheels... a power wheelchair that is. Due to a 2006 bicycle racing accident, Coach has been leading the Bulldog cross-country program as a quadriplegic.

Bret's story   

Bret teaching after his injury (slideshow)

Brownsburg Track & Field

Bret Neylon's 'Race to Recovery' supporting local individuals living with spinal cord injuries with needed financial supports.

3.6. Briana Walker - paraplegic model and wheelchair dancer

Model, hip-hop dancer, motivational speaker and author, Briana Walker is a California girl who did something amazing – she got head deep in the world of modeling only a year after her injury. When she was 23, her entire world changed after she fainted while behind the wheel (becoming a T11-12 paraplegic as a result), but within a year she had found her niche in disabled modeling, and made the cover of Mobility Management Magazine.

One year after her accident Briana became the first female ever to be featured on the cover of Mobility Management magazine. Shortly thereafter Briana became the Krypto Girl for Colours Wheelchairs. Her images have now been used globally on buses and billboards to change the face of disability.

Briana now enjoys skydiving, surfing, snow skiing, wakeboarding, competing in triathlons, bungee jumping and most of all - dancing.

After meeting another Colours' model, Auti Angel, also a dancer and a pioneer in the hip hop world, Briana learned to transform her wheelchair into a dance prop, and they created one of the first ever wheelchair hip hop dance teams to take the national spotlight.

In 2007 Briana became the new spokesperson for Her television commercials and print ads have been seen all around the world. 

She is also an Ambassador for Life Rolls On and Ralph's Riders, non-profit organizations that exist to be a grassroots resource that provides hope and is an advocate on behalf of young people whose lives have been affected by spinal cord injury.

3.7. Brooke Ellison - Vent-dependent stem cell research advocate

Brooke Ellison was struck by a car on her first day of seventh grade, paralyzing her from the neck down. Her life accomplishments as a quadriplegic—including obtaining a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University and running for New York State Senate—have been an inspiration to many. In 2002, she and her mother published her autobiography, Miracles Happen: One Mother, One Daughter, One Journey.



Now Brooke Ellison is the newly-appointed Director of Education and Ethics at the Stony Brook University Stem Cell Research Facility Center. Dr. Ellison has been immersed in the stem cell field for over 15 years, viewing this from legislative, ethical, and social standpoints.

3.8. Charlie Mosbrook-Musician & triathlete after cervical reconstruction

Charlie Mosbrook sustained increasing nerve damage from degenerative cervical disc's leading to extensive reconstructructive cervical surgery. He resumed his song writing and performing as well as athletic persuits 16 months after his successful surgery.

3.9. Charlie Ray Howell-Paralyzed Racer

Charlie Ray Howell is a paralyzed Racer but justPump the brakes on any presumption that Charlie Ray Howell's paralysis keeps him from living out his dream of being a racecar driver.

An automobile accident in 2010 left the Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, resident dependent on a wheelchair but far from being confined to it.

Thanks to some clever rigging on his steering wheel, which allows Howell, 38, to operate all controls — brakes, acceleration and clutch — with his hands, he regularly climbs into his racecar and competes in local races in Middle Tennessee.

3.10. Chelsie Hill - wheelchair dancer

On February 21, 2010, Chelsie Hill was out with her friends drinking and having fun when she got in the car with a friend who was under the influence of alcohol. The vehicle crashed and left Chelsie as a T10 Paraplegic. Dance was her first passion but her second is getting the chance to spread the awareness on drunk and distracting driving. Chelsie travels all over, speaking to different middle schools, high schools, and organizations. Whats different about Chelsie is that she has learned to embrace herself and speaks with her friend who was driving that night. In doing so. she has inspired others with lessons she's learned about life. Chelsie and her father Jon Hill became the founders of the Walk and Roll Foundation. The organization strives to educate students about distracted driving through their Rally4Reality Program, Inspire those through their wheelchair dance team and also they are expanding to help raise money to grant people with exercise equipment who cant afford it.

3.11. Cynthia White-Work & Social Life With Incomplete Quadriplegia

Cynthia White-Living a glamorous, adventurous life as a photographer's model and teaching children to ski, SCI brought Cynthia clarity of purpose to encourage and applaud other's chrysalis. She served as Pilot's Club Handicapped Woman of the Year, Ms. Wheelchair Alabama, has a website/blog dedicated to SCI, and is an author.

3.12. Danny Furlong-Writer with Quadriplegia and Locked-IN Syndrome

I'm Danny Furlong, an Australian non-verbal quadriplegic with locked-in syndrome. I've been that way for thirty years, thirty relatively good years (except for those times early on when I couldn't envisage a real life anymore.)

    I'm confined to an electric wheelchair and I live alone in my own home in country Victoria. Government funded carers come in morning, noon, night and nighty-night to do the basics for me. Like Bill Burns SCI turned into a blessing for me, though not so successful. In my previous life I always hankered to writeb6w2al6too busy with my active life. Quadriplegia fixed that. I've now had a play performed in theatres and on national radio, and have enjoyed many years of writing. If I get off my bum and work a bit harder I'll have my trilogy of fantasy novels all published in the next year.

    For some time now I've been writing a blog that's mainly about living with quadriplegia and about the writing process, but by God I try to write it a lot more interesting and entertaining than it sounds - just like I do with life. Check it out. It's an unfolding story that makes more sense if you start with the first post from its archives.

3.13. Dwight Owens-Motivational Speaker with Paraplegia

Dwight Owens, though his book, 'Still Standing' describes his life growing up in Mississippi, becoming a respected educator and moving forward in life after sustaining numerous injures including paraplegia. He now strives to 'Make it count for something' as he details in Chapter 10 of his book. Dwight employs his charismatic nature and teaching experience to underscore his messages of injury prevention and respect for people living with disabilities.

3.14. Ed Roberts - disability rights advocate with polio

Ed Roberts, co-founder and past president of World Institute on Disability, was a leader in the civil rights movement that championed the right of people with disabilities to lead independent lives. He received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award in 1984 and used the grant to establish WID as an influential public policy center.

Roberts was paralyzed from the neck down as a result of polio contracted at age 14. He became the first severely disabled student to attend the University of California at Berkeley, and he secured federal money to establish the Disabled Students Program at the university, a first for the nation. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in political science from the university and taught political science there for six years.

In 1972, he helped found the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, a self-help model of advocacy and service by and for people of all disabilities. In 1975, Governor Jerry Brown appointed him head of the California State Department of Rehabilitation, a position he held until 1982.

Roberts died in 1995 of natural causes at the age of 56.

3.15. Geoff Matesky-Writer, I T Engineer

Geoff Matesky Bio:

Geoffrey E. Matesky,
author of They Call Me Wheels  I am a parent, writer, I.T. engineer, musician, and perhaps least importantly, the occupant of a wheelchair for the past 25 years. As the survivor of a spinal cord injury at age 19 that left me paralyzed from the chest down, I have been an avid scuba diver, sailor and salt water fisherman; I competed in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games as a member of the U.S. Disabled Swim Team, and have partaken in activities as far flung as mono-skiing, parasailing and adaptive water skiing. I am also past President of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, Connecticut Chapter.


3.16. Gerry Bertier all American HS football player in 'Remember The Titans'

Gerry Bertier-was an all-American HS football player from Virginia sustained paraplegia during his senior year of high school and went on not only to independent living but was a champion of accessibility and advocacy well before the ADA was instituted. His story was one of the central themes in the movie 'Remember The Titans'

The family of Gerry, in order to continue his work as an advocate for the handicap and his passion to advance Spinal Cord Injury Research started "The Gerry Bertier #42 Foundation". Gerry's foundation is a non-profit (501c3) organization whose charter is to support the advancement of Spinal Cord Injury Research.

3.17. Greg Harry-musician living with quadriplegia

Greg uses a sip & puff controlled power wheelchair for mobility while composing, recording and performing in the Christian Rock genre.

Bio: "I played guitar for 15 years until September 14, 1991, when an accident left me paralyzed from the shoulders down. As you can imagine, it took some adjusting but in November 1996, I wrote the first lyrics since the accident and started singing at a monthly jam session at Shepherd Spinal Center here in Atlanta.
Two years later I got my first recording software and started learning composing on the computer. I was involved in a compilation project in 2000 that involved 9 people and 7 of us in wheelchairs so we called it "Rock-N-Chair". I finished my first solo cd in September, 2001 called "The Web" and my second cd in December, 2003 called "Troubled Times, Troubled Soul". Since then, I had a technical set back and several health setbacks but I hope to have a way overdue cd finished by the end of 2012 / beginning of 2013. I look forward to any comments and just thanks for lending your ear my way and listening, blessings!"


Visit: Greg Harry

3.18. Giesbert Nijhuis-Inventor With Tetraplegia

Giesbert Nijhuis (Netherlands) Inventor living with Tetraplegia

1. How to take photos without using hands
2. Bed computer
3. LaesieCushion
Giesbert was 26 years old when he broke his neck at the cervical level (C3/C4) in a bus accident. He can only move his head.
Giesbert was awarded in a new category - Serial Patient Innovation Award - due to the commitment devoted to diffuse his solutions
and empower more patients with the same or similar condition. This innovator created his own website where he shares his knowledge
and solutions to cope with his daily life problems, Laesieworks. Among several creations Giesbert developed, Patient Innovation
highlights three fantastic do-it-yourself solutions: a digital camera-based system, which enables him to take photos without hands,
a bed computer so Giesbert can work on his laptop while in bed and Laesiecushion, wheelchair cushions to prevent pressure wounds
for wheelchair users.

3.19. Jarrett Martin-Paraplegic Sky Diver

Jarrett Martin-Paraplegic Sky Diver 

(CNN) -- Skydiver Jarrett Martin is a stark reminder of what can go wrong in extreme sports.

The Dubai-based young American is also a powerful advertisement for putting safety first when you tackle a stunt laced with potentially fatal risks.

Martin wasn't even out of his teens when the sport with which he was obsessed almost killed him. Yet, he came back from the brink to chalk up a world first -- and secure a job at the busiest sky diving center in the Middle East.

The 24-year-old is a familiar figure at Skydive Dubai, where he is one of just two qualified master parachute riggers in the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier this year, Martin achieved even more notoriety when he completed 11 so-called BASE jumps -- from a fixed structure or cliff -- in four days in the Norwegian fjords.

Leaving his wheelchair at the summit of a 3,000-foot (914 meters) peak, he pushed himself off and became the first disabled person to successfully make such a jump unassisted.

By rights the Seattle-born sportsman shouldn't be here at all.

At 18, a jump stunt went wrong and left him fighting for his life with a broken back, a torn aorta, battered lungs and kidneys, and paralyzed from the chest down.

Martin emerged from his coma and had a question for the doctors who saved him.

"'When can I start skydiving again', I asked," he recalls.

MORE: Insider guide to the best of Dubai

Inspirational journey

Most people would have quit and considered their luck at surviving. Yet, not only did Martin dive out of a plane six months later, he became one of just two disabled people in the world to complete a BASE jump.

Martin was a veteran of 2,800 jumps when he was badly injured.
Martin was a veteran of 2,800 jumps when he was badly injured.

Then, in March of this year, he was taken on by Skydive Dubai, impressed by his skills when he competed for the United States in an accuracy skydive event over Dubai.

Martin acknowledges his wheelchair makes some rookie skydive customers nervous, but his journey is nothing short of inspirational.

He says: "It is good for them to see me as anything is a possibility.

"The paralysis I have isn't that common. You either survive or you don't.

"Half my body survived and half didn't. That's why I'm in a wheelchair. But what you do afterward speaks a lot. A lot of people get paralyzed and they just let themselves go and get reclusive."

Martin was a veteran of 2,800 jumps when he broke his body during a speed-flying attempt in Hawaii, where he worked for a skydive business.

A hybrid of paragliding and BASE jumping, it involved leaping from a cliff.

"I was trying new things and things didn't quite go to plan and my parachute collapsed. I fell a couple of hundred feet and broke my back and damaged a lot of my insides.

"You have this wing that's laid out behind you. I was going to run and the parachute would inflate and I was going to start gliding down the mountainside.

"Once I was airborne I was going to try to get enough altitude so I could release that parachute and open up a secondary parachute.

"In the midst of all the action and with a new special harness I had built, I was flying for about 10 seconds and that parachute prematurely released and I didn't have enough altitude to deploy my secondary chute."

MORE: Retro sand safari: Doing Dubai's deserts in style

Triple checks

Martin: \
Martin: "It's awesome to continue doing what I love."

Martin pauses as he recalls the moment.

"I should have been dead. Miraculously I survived.

"The doctors did a good job of putting me back together. It takes a while to get healthy enough to even get out of bed let alone get in an airplane, but thankfully within six months I was."

Martin took a year to fully rehabilitate. He studied air traffic control, but struggled to get a job, so then decided to head to Florida in order to become a master parachute rigger.

"I was responsible for my equipment that day in Hawaii and it has made me a very detail orientated person today. Not only do I double check everything, I triple check and ask opinions of other qualified people," he says.

These days Martin is among just a dozen wheelchair skydivers in the world and remains part of the U.S. parachuting team that competed over Dubai.

"When I got hurt I thought I would never get to go to Dubai and check out all the cool things there. So to be in Dubai right now is really a dream come true," says Martin, who still manages 200 jumps a year.

"I never thought it would be possible to work here in my condition but you put your mind to it and anything can happen. It took that accident almost to realize how much passion I have for the job I do now.

"My grandfather and my father were skydivers. I've been around it all my life, so even with something as dramatic as getting paralyzed, that's not going to slow me down.

"If there's a will there's a way. I've found the way and it's awesome to continue doing what I love."


3.20. Jennifer (Jen) French-Neurotech Network/Athlete w/C6/7

Jennifer (Jen) French

standtorch.jpg DownloadFull SizeReattach

As a result of a snowboarding accident, Jen became a quadriplegic from a C6-7 incomplete spinal cord injury in 1998. Prior to her injury, she was recreationally active with such sports as canoeing, snowboarding, sailing, fly fishing, scuba diving/snorkeling and cycling. After her injury, she still participates in all those activities. In November 1999, she received the Implantable Stand & Transfer System provided by the Cleveland FES Center, MetroHealth Medical Center and Veterans Affairs; the first women to receive such a system. Residing in St. Petersburg, Florida, Jen serves as Chairperson of the Committee to Advocate for Persons with Impairments for the City of St. Petersburg and is a state trained Peer Mentor for spinal cord injury. Over the course of her career, Ms. French has helped launch successful divisions in such organizations as Bombardier Capital and PC Connection, Inc. As a user of neurotechnology who has reaped its benefits, she is the Founder of a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, The Society to Increase Mobility, dba Neurotech Network and currently serves as Executive Director. The organization's focus is to educate and advocate to and for persons with impairments, their care-givers and health care professionals regarding neurotechnology. She serves on the Advisory Boards for the Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for Cerebral Palsy project at Stanford University, the Brown University Institute for Brain Science, and the Advanced Platform Technology Center in Cleveland. She has addressed such organizations as National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Therapy Association, ISCoS/American Spinal Injury Association, The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, the American Occupational Therapy Association and NIH/NINDS Neural Interfaces. Prior to her disabling injury, Jen was introduced to windsurfing as a college student while on her second date with her current husband, Tim. She caught the bug. Now, as a quadriplegic, she actively races in the Sonar class, both abled-bodied and disabled. Jen is a member of the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, 8-time winner of the Milan-Gruson award for top disabled female skipper and a silver medalist from the 2011 & 2012 IFDS World Championships. While representing Team USA, she and her teammate, JP Creignou, won a Silver Medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

3.21. Business Owner Jim Mullen

For Jim Mullen, being a ventilator dependent quadriplegic was no barrier to becoming a successful business owner.

Jim was shot while serving as a Chicago police officer in 1996. After that he spent 4 months at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago before returning home using a power wheelchair. "Ever since that day, I've remembered that life is precious and dreams are worth chasing", says Jim. "My new reality inspired a passion in me for proving to everyone that life is what you make out of it."

Jim becomes a business owner

"In 2007 I got a small batch of my mother's special blend of apples & spices made and begged to get her apple sauce on the shelf at Happy Foods, the store where my mom shopped with me when I was little. It took a little convincing but they finally put some on the shelves. My mom was happily surprised when I got to show her the sauce all bottled up. More good news followed when people started buying it, too. Throughout this process I was madly giving it away to family and friends as gifts. Turns out, everybody LOVED IT and was telling me to just go for it and make it an official business. Mullen Foods was born."

Jim uses typical email and other commercial business applications to run his highly successful business. The Dragon Naturally Speaking, voice-to-text program and other assistive technologies allow him to manage his business affairs quite handily. Jim's applesauce is now available at hundreds of retail establishments as well as from his website.

3.22. Kathleen DeSilva-Successful lawyer with vent-dependent C 1/2 SCI

Living Without Boundaries

With Optimism and an Amazing Will, Alumna Kathleen DeSilva Defies the Odds

December 9, 1999

In 1973, a social worker noted that one of her clients, Rice University student Kathleen DeSilva, was setting unrealistic goals for herself.

DeSilva lived off campus at home. Five years earlier, at age 16, she fell from the uneven parallel bars at school and was paralyzed from the neck down. It was a C-1 C-2 spinal cord injury and, at the time of the accident, she wasn't expected to live for more than about three years.

She had already beaten those odds, but the social worker considered her life goals, which included law school, to be implausible.

In the 26 years since the social worker filed her report, DeSilva has often made the unrealistic real. She graduated from Rice cum laude and earned a law degree. She is currently in-house counsel to the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) Systems and on the board of METRO.

In '84, she was featured in an Esquire magazine cover story, "The Best of the New Generation," showcasing people under 40 who are changing America. The only other Houstonian recognized was then mayor Kathy Whitmire.

DeSilva '77 is, according to her doctors, the longest living C-1 C-2 spinal cord injury survivor in history. It has been an amazing survival and a phenomenal life. She has faced several near-death experiences and gracefully overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

"Kathy is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met, for spirit and the sense that nothing is impossible," says her friend and former teacher Bob Patten, the Lynette S. Autry Professor in Humanities. "She exemplifies courage and optimism and refuses to acknowledge any boundaries, and she does it all without any kind of shrillness. She is always calm and positive."

Charles Beall, the former chairman of the board of Texas Commerce Bank-Houston and current chairman of the board of TIRR, says that DeSilva "is one of the big reasons I left banking to work at TIRR full time. She is one of the most inspirational persons I've ever met.

"Thank goodness God has given her to TIRR for so many years. She gives so many people hope and shows what's possible after a catastrophic injury."

Beall, who has known DeSilva for about 15 years, says that whenever he sees her his day "literally picks up" because of her "brightness and warmth. I have never seen her have a bad day."

As in-house counsel, DeSilva handles all the legal work for the Houston-based TIRR hospital system, an institution that specializes in catastrophic accidents. She is also the director of risk management.

DeSilva is also a role model. "One of my favorite things about working here is the opportunity to meet new patients," she says. "I like to show them how I work in my office, what I do, and maybe it can encourage them to think about what they can do with their own lives."

After a catastrophic injury, DeSilva says, "it's pretty common for someone to think their life is over, but that's just not true. At some point you decide that you'll get on with your life, and that's what I try to convey: That you can still achieve your goals, but you might have to change them slightly. My first goal was to be a doctor, but I had to change it and be a lawyer, but that's OK."

At METRO, along with her work on the board, she chairs the METROLift Advisory Committee.

Robert Miller, chairman of the board of METRO, describes DeSilva as "one of the most courageous people I've met and one of the most intelligent. Certainly she has her achievements as an attorney, but it's her personality, passion and optimism that make her such a joy to work with."

Soon after DeSilva joined the METRO board in '98, she met with Bob MacLennan, then general manager, and Julie Gilbert, vice president of communications and marketing. MacLennan briefed DeSilva on various subjects and at one point wanted to give her some phone numbers. DeSilva said that it wouldn't be necessary to write them down because she had a good memory. When the meeting ended 10 minutes later, Gilbert could not resist: "OK, tell me those numbers he gave you." DeSilva rattled them off.

DeSilva says she has always had a good memory and since her accident, she's developed mental skills to make it even sharper.

Patten says he wasn't surprised when he heard that she sailed through the Bates College of Law, because law school requires the mental storehousing of vast amounts of information, and in his Victorian novels class, "she remembered every page of 'Bleak House.'"

DeSilva also chairs the Personal Assistance Service Task Force of the Coalition for Texans with Disabilities, a group that lobbies state legislators for home community-based services funding for the disabled. She is also the chairperson of the Houston Mayor's Committee for the Employment for People with Disabilities, a group providing educational scholarships and recognizing exemplary employers of the disabled. She also gives speeches to various groups on accessibility.

She attributes her long survival in part to "luck and good fortune. And it helps to have been blessed with a very supportive family," says DeSilva, who notes that her late parents gave her constant messages of love and encouragement and made sure she had the finest medical care.

A strong will also has helped. A '96 biography of DeSilva, "Don't Tell Me I Can't," by Deborah Betts Morehead, recalls a moment on her 18th birthday when DeSilva, alone, said aloud: "Dear God, I will not give up. I will go to college and I will make my parents proud of me."

Her doctor, Ed Carter, the former director of the spinal cord injury center at TIRR, recalls that "she and I butted heads in the early years. She was very stubborn, but that's what's gotten her so far."

It has been 31 years since the accident, when she and two other members of her Shreveport high school gymnastics team were practicing on the uneven parallel bars, attempting a move they'd seen at a meet. When DeSilva tried the routine, she lost her grip and landed on her forehead.

She could not move or breathe. A gym teacher performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until an ambulance arrived.

The original prognosis was that she had from a few months to three years to live. A few months after the accident, she was flown to TIRR in Houston. "Learning to breathe with a machine was the most difficult thing I had to do, and it was terrifying," she says. "I never thought I was getting enough air. When you get nervous or anxious, you breathe rapidly, but the machine does not change the breathing rate because of your emotions."

Gradually, she became more comfortable with her breathing, taught herself to talk again and to type with a mouth stick. She was fed through a nasogastric tube until she learned to swallow by accident. An on-duty nurse was drinking a soda one day, and DeSilva asked if she could have some ice. When some ice accidentally slipped down her throat, she was able to swallow it.

Life in rehab was "frightening and also maybe a little boring," she says. "All I did was lay in bed all day. That's why school was so important. It was a way to keep my mind occupied."

DeSilva entered Rice in '70 and attended freshmen events at O-Week. Her mother, Kathleen Joyce DeSilva, pushed her wheelchair and took notes for her in classes. Rice was not wheelchair accessible in those days.

"My mother would have to pop me up and down curbs. There weren't any ramps, although they did later put up some makeshift wooden ramps."

DeSilva took two Shakespeare courses from Professor of English Dennis Huston. She would sometimes miss classes because she had to spend time in the hospital, and during those stretches Huston would go there to help her catch up. Occasionally, he would act out scenes from Shakespeare as amazed hospital staff looked on.

Huston recalls that DeSilva was "absolutely rigorous" in her work. And he says that when she did have to miss two weeks or so of class to undergo a major operation, she'd come back completely prepared.

Noting the incredible amount of detail in her course papers, Huston observes: "I had the sense that she would write her papers in her head and when she was ready to dictate, they were mostly done."

She took a Victorian novels survey course from Patten and "did astoundingly well on her oral exams," he says. Recalling that as a student, "she once offered to baby-sit for my two kids," Patten says, "She is absolutely phenomenal."

Looking back on her Rice days, DeSilva says, "academically, it was marvelous." She notes that "students and faculty certainly tried to make me part of the campus atmosphere even though I couldn't stay there overnight." She slept at her home and had a room at Brown College where, between classes, she and her mother would take breaks.

At Rice, she says she made many friends and dated.

As if life for DeSilva had not been difficult enough, she faced another devastating event in '74 when her mother died of a brain aneurysm. Student volunteers began taking her notes and pushing her to classes.

Her strong will was certainly in evidence in on the day of a Christmas banquet at Brown College that same year. Her nurse at TIRR said she couldn't go because she had just undergone a spinal instrumentation operation in which a steel rod had been placed along her spine to give it more stability. After the operation, she couldn't sit for several months and had to be flat on a table.

But DeSilva would not be denied. She had her student friends strap her to a standing table and push her across Fannin and Main streets. To keep her upright at the party, a faculty associate tied the table to a door with nautical knots. "It was lots of fun," DeSilva recalls with a laugh.

When the nurse learned that DeSilva had gone out, she sent an ambulance after her, but DeSilva wouldn't budge. Hours later, when she did return to the hospital in a food service truck, she received a stern lecture from the nurse.

After she graduated from Rice and Bates College of Law at the University of Houston, DeSilva and some women friends opened a store in Houston featuring gifts made for and by women. Says DeSilva, "I was very much a product of the '60s: A strong believer in women's rights and equality." During that time, she and three friends drove in a small Honda to a women's festival in Michigan where they camped in the woods.

Since her accident, DeSilva has had several terrifying near-death experiences. In '69, the motor of the iron lung she was sleeping in caught on fire. Her mother came to her rescue after smelling smoke. She never used an iron lung again. In '91, while she was having lunch at a private club, the battery in her phrenic simulator breathing machine quit and she had forgotten to bring her backup bag for emergency breathing. She was saved by a waiter who found another battery. In '96, she nearly died when the humidifier on her ventilator turned over, causing the machine to pump water into her lungs.

Despite such scary moments, she has refused to take a cautious approach to life. Says Carter, "She has been over the years what I would call an extra-smart risk taker. She calculates the pros and cons of her actions."

When she went to Rice, for example, she didn't carry a backup ventilator, which had been recommended. It was a risk, Carter says, but a calculated risk. DeSilva wanted to get through school with as much mobility as possible, he says: "She was motivated to independence."

Once every April, DeSilva and Carter get together over cheesecake. Their annual ritual is a celebration of her survival.

She says it is frustrating to be dependent, "having to have someone else do everything for you. It would be nice to get up one morning and get out of bed and watch the sunrise. I can't do that unless I get up at 3 a.m., because it takes two to three hours to get out of bed. Your whole life is basically scheduled. There lies the frustration. You just have to learn to live with it."

She calls her husband of 15 years, Peter Simmons, "the joy of my life, absolutely." Simmons, a computer consultant, is disabled from a motorcycle accident. He has movement in his upper body and is self-sufficient.

Describing the special nature of their relationship, she notes that Simmons often "wakes up in the middle of the night to get me a drink of water or to scratch my nose."

When not working at her job, which she loves, DeSilva says she enjoys hanging out with Simmons in their Heights home, cooking, dining out, shopping, visiting museums and playing the stock market on the Internet. "So far, I'm making money," she says.

A big fan of the Internet, DeSilva says she can enter libraries around the world to research and copy information from an online publication to any of her legal documents. "It's a phenomenal thing," she says.

DeSilva says she hates being put on a pedestal and considers herself an ordinary person with hopes and dreams. "I still want to be looked at as anybody else," she says, "a person trying to make a good life for herself."

3.23. Katrina Carter-an example of resolve and faithfulness


Katrina Carter has persevered though considerable health and personal challenges, based in great part by her deep religious faith. Please read her attached story.

3.24. Laura Hershey

A tribute to Laura Hershey  a prolific writer and poet who was also an effective spokesperson for disability rights.

Sample poem, 'You Get Proud By Practiicing'

3.25. Mark Johnson-Called to Community (after SCI)

Called to Community

by Mark I. Pinsky 

Like many children growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Mark Johnson went to church because that's what his family did, he wrote in his memoir, I Love Today, from which this chapter is adapted. His parents were volunteer Sunday school teachers at Sharon Presbyterian Church. His dad served in leadership positions, and his mom sang in the choir and planted flowers and maintained the gardens. Johnson and his brothers attended Sunday school and worship services. They participated in youth group activities and played basketball in the church gym. It was all part of life. 

"In the midst of this life, we developed some sense of who God is and what he expects," Johnson recalled. "We learned that God is good and that he likes boys and girls who are good. That meant respecting our parents, doing our chores, and working hard in school. Only now they were coated with theological meaning and injected with an extra powerful shot of motivation, since God, like Santa, could see everything." 

Mark realized that fear was not an ingredient in this spiritual recipe. The Johnson boys weren't raised to believe that God would strike them down in a bolt of lightning or otherwise punish them if they were bad. It was just that they didn't want to disappoint God. Somehow, they knew God loved them and wanted the best for them. And much as in the relationship they had with their parents, the thing they feared most was letting God down or being undeserving of his love. They did their best to earn the love of God and their parents, even if it meant sitting quietly through some dry church services. 

Everything changed just two weeks before Mark's twentieth birthday, when he sustained a spinal cord injury in a diving accident. Although the Johnson family had endured trying times in the past that had tested their faith, this event brought them to their knees, spiritually speaking. Their church at that time, Carmel Presbyterian, immediately rallied around them. The pastor visited, and church members prayed incessantly for them and sent a steady stream of hot casseroles and pecan pies to fill their stomachs. As Mark's parents sat vigil around his bedside, their friends ran errands, fed the dog, and shuttled news and people back and forth from the hospital. 

"Yet in the midst of these outward signs of Christian love and concern, my parents were beginning to lash out at the God they had served for so long," he said, "feeling that he had betrayed them. My dad, in particular, was furious at God. More than anyone, he had believed that if he did everything right and worked hard in the church, God would protect him and his family. My mother's anger was not as concentrated. She knew implicitly that God had not caused—or even allowed—my injury; however, she still wrestled with her sense of loss and grief. Together, they agreed that they would not return to church, at least for now." 

While Mark did his best to put on a brave face for his family and friends, during the night, as he lay alone in his hospital bed, he wrestled with his own spiritual questions. He grieved over his injury and a life that was quickly being defined by chilling phrases such as "permanently paralyzed," "confined to a wheelchair," "take him home until you can't take care of him anymore," and "he won't live past forty." 

"Like my mom, I knew that God had not caused my injury, but still I wondered where God was during this time," he said. "I was still very much afraid, but gradually I began to have a sense that God was with me. God was starting to become personal." 

In 1972 Johnson was still wrestling with his new identity. After five months spent in hospitals, he'd had time to settle in at home and begin to navigate the world as a person with a disability. Not surprisingly, he was starting to feel aimless and restless, wondering what he should do next in life. During that time Billy Graham returned to Charlotte to hold a crusade in his hometown, and the visit piqued Johnson's interest. He asked his father to drop him off at the Ovens Auditorium that Friday evening—the crusade's youth night. As Mark's father drove away, the young man wheeled himself through the entrance and toward the front of the auditorium, where an area had been set aside for people using wheelchairs. After singer George Beverly Shea warmed up the crowd with his renowned baritone voice, Graham began to tell the story of Daniel, a devout Jewish boy who was captured by the Babylonians, taken from his family and homeland, and forced to serve the Babylonian emperor's royal court. Though traumatized, Daniel didn't give up, but instead went on to develop a successful career interpreting dreams. Neither did he give up his faith in God, even when his captors insisted, on pain of death, that he worship their pagan gods. 

"As Billy preached, I understood that it was no longer adequate for me to rely on my parents' faith in God," Johnson said. "While they had done a great job raising me in the church, it was time now for me to make my own personal commitment to God. I was being challenged to finish the process that began in those dark nights in the hospital. More so, I recognized that God was with me, not just in the time of my accident but also as I was developing my new sense of self, and that he was calling me to lead a full and active life, with or without a disability." 

Within four years of Johnson's accident, his parents had also reconciled with their faith and returned to church—his mother with a sense of peace, and his father with a mixture of wariness and hope. Because Mark was still living with his parents, he attended church with them. The congregation welcomed them warmly and did what they could to accommodate Mark and his wheelchair. Among other things, they built a beautiful ramp for the church's entrance and approved the use of their gym for the local wheelchair basketball team. 

At the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Johnson earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in education, specializing in guidance and counseling. He took a job as a counselor at Charlotte Rehabilitation Hospital, providing support to current and former patients who were also adjusting to life with a disability. Although many of the patients' problems involved physical barriers, which often left them feeling angry and depressed, more fundamental issues arose from social attitudes about disability that supported segregation and promoted paternalism. These attitudes said that having a disability was a negative thing. When couched in spiritual terms, these were the same attitudes that told Johnson he needed to be healed, as if he wasn't good enough for God's love the way he was. 

Twice after his accident, Johnson met this frustrating belief face-to-face. The first incident took place on a summer evening a year after his injury. He was lying in bed when a friend visited. "His name was Tommy, and he was here to heal me," Johnson recalled. "Earlier that evening, Tommy had attended a worship service at his church, where a visiting healing preacher was praying over people. After the service, Tommy invited the preacher to accompany him to my house and pray over me, but the preacher declined. Undaunted, Tommy decided that he had the same faith and could do the same things that the healing preacher had done, and he headed directly to my house." 

Knowing Tommy to be sincere in his desire to heal him, Johnson agreed to let him try. "I could tell it was important to him. He read a passage of Scripture, prayed over me, and then grabbed my arms and commanded me to stand up. But I didn't. Although I shifted a bit from the force of his actions, my body otherwise continued to rest comfortably on the bed. Tommy was both embarrassed and devastated and quickly retreated from my room, never to come around again." 

More than ten years later, after marrying and having a child, Mark was vacationing with his family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His wife and daughter were playing in the water while he sat poolside, watching them and enjoying the warm summer sun. Eventually, a woman approached him. Sitting next to him, she smiled and asked if she could pray for him. "I understood that like Tommy, she was sincere in her offer and thought she was doing a good deed. She may even have thought that she was doing the will of God. I smiled back at her and answered, 'Sure, as long as you know that I'm happy.' I could tell that my response startled her. Her smile vanished, and she awkwardly stood up and walked away without saying anything else." 

In retrospect, Johnson thought that his friend Tommy and the woman by the pool represented a lot of people in the church, and to a degree he understood their motivation. Disability is frightening to many people. It generally comes from injury, illness, or aging, and it always means that some part of the body, whether the brain, the legs, arms, eyesight, bodily functions, or a combination of parts—do not work the same way they do in people without disabilities. "In a society that places a high value on ability and being independent, we don't want to think that it's possible that we, too, could lose that," said Johnson. "I understand that, and yet I see, too, how pity is promoted when people focus solely on what a person can't do, rather than what they can. When we do that to people, we miss out on the opportunities to see them as partners in ministry." 

Johnson learned this lesson from his friend and mentor Wade Blank, whom he met while living in Denver, Colorado, in the early 1980s. Blank was a Presbyterian minister who had worked in the civil rights movement before dedicating his life to working with people with disabilities. Blank especially singled out people with severe disabilities, and as he did so, he witnessed the ways in which society shunned and pitied them. But the minister saw the value and dignity in each person and treated him or her as a colleague and partner. Blank, Johnson, and others organized a group they called ADAPT and successfully fought for accessible transportation, first at the local level and later at the national level. Working with Blank, Johnson learned how communities are strongest and most effective when every person is valued for his or her contribution. 

From Denver, Johnson and his family moved in 1986 to Atlanta, where he began volunteering at Shepherd Center, a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research, and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injuries. In 1987 he was hired as the facility's advocacy specialist, and later he became its director of advocacy. Over the past twenty years, Johnson has earned more than a dozen state and national awards for his advocacy for people with disabilities. 

After Johnson and his wife, Susan, were married, they did not attend church regularly. But like many other couples, they agreed, once their daughter Lindsey was born, that it was time to start going again. They wanted Lindsey to be exposed to the Christian faith and brought up in the church, so they soon joined Alpharetta First Presbyterian Church and began to get involved. The church had all the necessary physical accommodations in place, so Mark was able to be as involved as he wanted to be. 

Over time, Lindsey found her own place in the Christian youth group, Young Life, and Susan and Mark began to attend church less frequently. Although they very much believed in God, "we weren't spending much time with him at church beyond Christmas and Easter," Johnson said. 

That all changed during a return trip from a Florida vacation in 1996, when Johnson lost his wallet at a roadside fruit stand. Four months later it was returned by mail by a stranger, who had found it and then misplaced it. In his letter accompanying the wallet, the man apologized and included a copy of The Daily Word, a booklet of daily devotions that he said he had found to be meaningful. The man wrote that he hoped the devotions might also be useful in Johnson's life. Johnson was touched. He read the devotion for that day and was glad that he had, for it gave him a sense of peace and reinvigorated his faith. 

"What was most meaningful was that this Good Samaritan offered this gift without knowing anything about me," Johnson said. "He didn't know who I was, or what I did, or whether I was already a Christian. And more importantly, he didn't know that I had a disability. He offered this gift simply because his love for God compelled him to do so. It was not a gift of pity, but one of pure Christian love." 

Over time, reading The Daily Word became a vital part of Johnson's morning routine, laying an uplifting foundation for the rest of his day and reminding him continually of God's presence in his life. He later gave copies of the devotional book to his wife, his daughter, and several of his family members and friends. In 2001 Lindsey introduced her parents to North Point Community Church, which they still attend. 

Toward the end of 2008, Mark began to feel restless. His work was going well, his family was fine, and he and his wife were learning to slow down and enjoy life. Still, he felt a spiritual uneasiness. Despite all that he had accomplished in his advocacy work, he worried that he wasn't doing what God wanted him to be doing. He wondered if he was losing focus or doing too little. He continued to read his daily devotions and attend church, and he tried harder to listen to God. 

The title of the Daily Word devotion for Friday, February 13, 2009, was "Healing," and the lead sentence was "Divine love heals and restores me. I am alive, alert, and enthusiastic about life." Mark read the devotion as usual and then began his day. But as the day progressed, he started to feel sick, and Susan took him to the hospital emergency room. His appendix had ruptured, but because of his spinal injury he had been unable to feel the pain. During several periods of nighttime delirium, he experienced a deep sense of awe and peace, as well as a spectrum of visions, some from his early life. 

Several days into his recovery, Mark asked his nurse to give him his laptop computer, and with great energy and clarity he began to write about the visions he had just experienced and the messages that seemed to emanate from them. "The word that kept coming to me was 'love,'" he said. "God created us because he loves us and he wants us to love each other." Mark felt that the visions were confirming the work he'd been doing but added a spiritual component that had been missing. "I think God wanted me to see his hand in my work and to share that message with others." This he has done since then, faithfully living out that calling, using a faith that has become personal, he said, "to share the good news that God loves us and calls us to community just the way we are." 


3.26. Mark Wellman-Adventure Athlete with paraplegia

Mark Wellman- Adventure Athlete and motivational speaker living with paraplegia.......

Mark Wellman is a nationally acclaimed author, filmmaker and motivational speaker. Despite being paralyzed in a mountain climbing accident, Mark has inspired millions to meet their problems head-on and reach for their full potential. A two-time Paralympian and former Yosemite Park Ranger, Mark's NO LIMITS philosophy encourages individuals to adventure into new horizons; to go beyond the seeming unreachable.

3.27. Mike Savicki-quadriplegic athlete and disability awareness spokesman

Mike Savicki-quadriplegic athlete and disability awareness spokesman has been named spokesman for National Mobility Awareness Month, a new celebration in May that encourages people with disabilities to live active, mobile lifestyles.


3.28. Mt. Sinai Spinal Cord Injury Health & Wellness (video) Series

Mt. Sinai Spinal Cord Injury Health & Wellness (video) Series includes video chapters focused on:

Exercise, Sports and Recreation

Healthy Eating and Weight Management

The True Nature of Intimacy

Female Panel on Intimacy and Sexuality

Male Panel on Intimacy and Sexuality

Freeing Minds, Opening Hearths and Igniting Actions

Re inviting Yourself After SCI

3.29. NIck Balenger walks across stage at graduation

**As we share the recovery progress and accomplishments of this young man, it is important to note that functional return following a spinal cord injury is individualized and highly dependent on the nature and severity of the injury.  There is generally a 2 year window of time post injury, as healing occurs at the site of the injury, for possible sensory and/or motor return.  No two injured persons will have the same outcome.  While rehabilitation, determination and perserverence are vitally important to recovery, return of function is independent of these factors and often even the most determined of efforts may result in little or no functional recovery. What we would like to highlight here is Nick's positive attitude and perseverance of spirit to continue on his life path no matter how different it may now be.


During the summer of 2012, Nick Balenger and his family from Virginia traveled to Hawaii for a vacation. Their summer fun was abruptly halted when Nick, a rising high school senior, sustained a C 4/5 spinal cord injury in a swimming accident.  Far from home, the family faced the challenges of returning to Virginia so that Nick could enter a rehab facility near his home.  NSCIA was contacted and guidance was provided to the family as they worked with their insurance carrier to provide for Nick's return all the way back to the East Coast.  Further contact with NSCIA continued as friends sought guidance about fundraising and other ways to help this family with a new spinal cord injury.

Nick had been a star pitcher on his high school baseball team; future dreams were suddenly so elusive.  Nick made up his mind that he would, in some way, not let this injury rule his life.  The goal that he set for himself was to be able to walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma.  As time elapsed, Nick continued his rehab and gradually, he began to experience some functional return to his lower limbs.  Thanks to his rehab, a determined attitude and the blessings of functional recovery, Nick was able to attend his homecoming game just 3 months after his injury.  With the assistance of his teammates, he was able to stand briefly at the ceremony.  Then, June 2013 and graduation time arrived. He practiced many times, prior to his graduation ceremony, rolling his wheelchair to the edge of the stage and then with the assistance of a walker he practiced ascending the few stairs and crossing the stage.

On June 19, 3013, Nick Balenger realized his dream and goal!  He rolled to the edge of the stage, transferred to a walker, ascended the stairs and crossed the stage to receive his diploma...... to cheers and a standing ovation!  Undaunted by facing a life after spinal cord injury, he plans to attend James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia this Fall.


3.30. Renee Bondi-Videos on moving forward with quadriplegia

Renee Bondi incurred quadriplegia in a fall at home. Thereafter she went on to marry and start a family. She continues to speak on moving forward in life with religious faith-based speaking engagements and video-based presentations.

3.31. Samantha de Leve-Paralympic Hopeful Swimmer, Singer and More

 Samantha de Leve calls herself a "crazy-living urban person," and with good reason. The August 2013 graduate of USC's Master of Arts in Specialized Journalism (The Arts) program is a coloratura soprano, dancer and Paralympic hopeful who plans to swim for Team USA in Rio 2016.

The only child of a Dutch mother and an American father, de Leve grew up in Playa del Rey and West Hollywood. She speaks "een betje" Dutch, along with French, German, Italian, Spanish and American Sign Language. She began dancing at age two, and doing gymnastics and singing in church choir at around age four.

She was attending the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts when she started showing signs of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic disorder with symptoms of overly stretchy ligaments and resulting joint instability and chronic pain.

"I had a cane and a bad attitude and everybody called me 'House,'" she said.

Her curiosity about medicine only made the nickname stick more. Her mother is a professor who studies drug-induced liver disease at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and de Leve "can read a liver function test like I can read Homer," she said. She has also worked in her mother's lab and shadowed doctors during hospital rounds.

As an undergraduate at USC, de Leve double majored in music and philosophy. She was selected as both a Renaissance Scholar for pursuing majors in disparate fields, and as a Discovery Scholar for original contributions to her field — a performance of a new music commission experimenting with modern approaches to coloratura.

In April 2012, de Leve dislocated her hip and shoulder on the way to Passover Seder. Although she'd experienced hundreds of previous dislocations, this moment convinced her to get a wheelchair. "For me," she explained, "it was liberation from dislocation and subluxation and — no more rhyming!"

As a master's student at USC, she swam in the pool as part of an ordinary low-impact fitness routine, and quickly approached Paralympic times. That's when she began training six days a week for the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and backstroke events with the Trojan Swim Club, a group of post-graduate Olympic and world champions.

"We swim in the same lane quite often, almost every day," said Jessica Hardy, a 2012 U.S. Olympian and world record holder in breaststroke events. "She's the kind of person who works hard when no one's watching and pushes herself beyond what she thought her limitations were."

After graduation, de Leve will spend a year or two working remotely from the Bay Area as a writing assistant for Professor Adam Knight Gilbert, director of the early music program at the USC Thornton School of Music, before going on to pursue her Ph.D.

In other words, she's accomplished a lot by age 23.

"My life has to be front-loaded, because who knows what happens later?" she said. "I have to get everything in now. And if I get more time than I anticipated with my body working properly, then hey, I'll be even more awesome!"


3.32. Stephany Glassing-flying with hand controls

Stephany was injured in a drunk driving accident. Later she learned to fly a single engine aircraft and has her own business.

4. SCI/D in Film

4.1. 37 Seconds-2019

37 Seconds -2019
Yuma is a young Japanese woman who suffers from cerebral palsy. Torn between her obligations towards her family and her dream to become a manga artist, she struggles to lead a self-determined life. 

4.2. Adam-2020

Adam (on Amazon Prime), based upon the true story of Adam Niskar (Aaron Paul) a hardworking mortgage broker seemed to have it all; the successful career, a great family and friends. His perfect life suddenly changes when Adam’s boss (Jeff Daniels) gives him a big promotion at work. Feeling invincible and a bit intoxicated, Adam goes through a tragic diving accident that causes him to become a quadriplegic. Heartbroken and frustrated with the way things will be going forward, Adam thinks his life is over. He has a hard time dealing with his emotions and relationships - that is until a mouthy yet comic Russian nurse (Lena Olin) comes into his life and shows him that life isn’t over, life has just begun.

4.3. Any One Of Us-2019 Documentary

Any One of Us (1 hr 27 min)
Documentary chronicling pro mountain biker Paul Basagoitia’s life-changing journey to recovery after suffering a spinal cord injury

4.4. Born On The Fourth Of July-1989 Biography StarringTom Cruise

Born OnThe Fourth Of July, starring Tom Cruise is the biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for.

4.5. Come As Your Are (2019)

Come As You Are (2019) Three young men with disabilities hit the road with a jaded nurse driver to a brothel in Montreal catering to people with special needs. Remake of the acclaimed Belgian film 'Hasta La Vista'.

4.6. Coming Home-1978 Starring Jon Voite, Jane Fonda & Bruce Dern

Coming Home is a story of a woman whose husband is fighting in Vietnam (who) falls in love with another man who suffered a paralyzing combat injury there.

4.7. Coming To My Senses-2017

 DocumentaryComing To My Senses-2017
Story of incomplete quad, Aaron Baker's effort to cross a 20 mile tract of Death Valley unsupported on foot. 

4.8. Crip Camp (2020)

In the heat of summer, they built a close-knit community. But what came next changed history – and humanity – forever. Available on Netflix.

4.9. End Game (2018)

Facing an inevitable outcome, terminally ill patients meet extraordinary medical practitioners, seeking to change our approach to life and death. Available on Netflix.

4.10. Endless Abilties-2012 Documentary

Chedk out the trailer for documentary Endless Abilities . A screening can be sscheduled as a fundraiser for your SCI group or foundation.

In the spring of 2012, four best friends drove across the country in search of adaptive sports for individuals with physical disabilities, and lived to tell the story in a feature documentary film.

From rehabilitation patients to Paralympic athletes, our cameras captured the reality of broken boundaries and common goals among all who are active. We went rock climbing with the blind, played soccer with quadriplegics, and swam with those with muscular dystrophy, to name a few. Through our journey, we learned that sports really are the great equalizer, unifying people of all abilities on a level playing field.

4.11. Good Luck (1996)

Good Luck (1996) Hines plays a former dental student, Bern Lemley, who had to quit school just before finals because of a car accident that left him in a wheelchair. D'Onofrio plays a former pro football player, Ole Olezniak, who was blinded in a freak accident on the field. Before their accidents, Bern had been a tutor for Ole, and, after quitting his post-accident job as a denture technician, he approaches Ole about teaming up to enter a white-water rafting race on Oregon's Rogue River.

4.12. Heart Of A Dragon-Rick Hansen, The 'Man in Motion'

Rick Hansen won 19 consecutive marathons using a racing wheelchair. Thereafter, he set about pushing his racing chair around the world which he dubbed his 'Man in Motion' tour. 'Heart of a Dragon' is a feature film based on that momentous tour.

4.13. Killer On Wheels- 2016

Killer on Wheels (1 hr 43 min) Subtitles. 
Two disabled teenagers looking for a reason to live, team up with a wheelchaired hitman. Ending has a twist.  Warning - this movie is pretty violent.. 

4.14. Kelly & Cal (with Juliette Lewis)

Kelly & Cal (trailer) Will hit select theaters and digital platforms September 5th, 2014 through IFC Films.

Punk-rocker turned suburban mom, Kelly (Juliette Lewis), is nostalgic for a life she can no longer have and uncertain of a future she doesn't yet fit in. Seventeen-year-old Cal (wheelchair user) is frustrated at his lack of control over the hand he's been dealt. When the two strike up an unlikely friendship, it's the perfect spark needed to thrust them both back to life.

4.15. Leave Yesterday Behind-1978

Leave Yesterday Behind - 1978, (1 hr 40 min)
Stars John Ritter as a man injured in a polo accident who goes to his grandfather's ranch to recover, meets a young woman, they fall in love but the relationship struggles as they consider the issue of sexuality after spinal cord injury.

4.16. Lucky Documentary

Lucky (1hr 24 min)
Award winning documentary on how newly injured quad artist/architect completes a project for the Boston Children’s Museum and how his family adjusts to his injury. 

4.17. Me Before You

Me Before You (2016) (1 hr 46 min)
Tells the story of young woman who is hired as a caregiver for a young recently paralyzed man who cannot accept his disability and her unsuccessful quest to help him move forward.

4.18. Monkey Shines (1988)

Monkey Shines (1988)  A quadriplegic man has a trained monkey help him with his paralysis, until the little monkey begins to develop feelings, and rage, against its new master.

4.19. Musical Chairs (2011)

Musical Chairs (2011) When, Mia, a dance teacher, lands in the hospital after an accident, Armando, a would-be dancer who admires her from afar, persuades her to train for an upcoming wheelchair ballroom dancing contest.

4.20. My Own Love Song

My Own Love Song (2010) (1 hr 42 min) 
Renee Zellweger & Forest Whitaker star in film about a paraplegic former singer and her best friend who go on a road trip from Kansas to New Orleans.

4.21. Murderball Documentary

Murderball with Mark Zupan USAToday  Mark Zupan swigs beer. Spews out four-letter words. Sweats up a storm in the gym. Wrestles with his dog. Has crowd-surfed at a Pearl Jam show. And enjoys an active sex life with his live-in girlfriend, Jessica Wampler.

Oh yeah, and he happens to be a quadriplegic who has been in a wheelchair since he was 18. That was when he was thrown from the bed of the pickup of his best friend, Christopher Igoe, and broke his neck.

Spend two minutes with Zupan and you forget he's sitting in a beat-up chair that's both an extension of himself and at the same time completely overshadowed by his piercing intelligence, sharp-edged humor and outspoken, trash-talking personality.

Yet his accident, Zupan says, is "the best thing that's ever happened to me."

He means it.

4.22. Passion Fish-1992

Passion Fish-1992
After an accident leaves her a paraplegic, a former soap opera star struggles to recover both emotionally and mentally, until she meets her newest nurse, who has struggles of her own.

4.23. Penguin Bloom-2021

Penguin Bloom
1hr:35mn 2021-Netfliz-Based on a true story
Starring: Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln, Jacki Weaver

As a mom living with paraplegia copes with the aftermath of a harrowing accident, she finds inspiration from an injured magpie taken in by her family. Based on a true story.


4.24. Movies Quid Pro Quo -2008

Movies Quid Pro Quo -2008
A semi-paralyzed radio reporter is sent out to investigate a story that leads him into an odd subculture and on a journey of disturbing self-realization.

4.25. Rear Window-Fiction Starring Christopher Reeve

Rear Window- 2004 remake of an older fictional story starring Christopher Reeve, was made three years after his horse riding accident. Reeve plays an architect who is involved in a head-on collision that has left him paralyzed. When he comes back to work, he has his own room in the floor above where he works and a new view to go with it, including goings-on of neighbors.

4.26. Rebound Documentary


The Miami Heat Wheels are on a quest for their first-ever NWBA Championship, but challenges threaten an early end to the season. Three athletes push their team towards the title while responding to adversity on and off the court.

4.27. Relentless

90 minute documentary film about how a snowboard athlete, Marty O’Connor, faces the challenge of living as a quadriplegic.  Film is on Festival Showing and must be booked privately. 

4.28. Rise Up-Discovering Hope-2020 Documentary

Rise Up-Discovering Hope-2020
Rise Up: Discovering Hope – documentary that follows a quadriplegic father of 3 as he participates in an e-Stim clinical trial run by Dr. Susan Harkema at University of Kentucky at Louisville.

4.29. Rising Phonex-2020 Documentary

Rising Phoenix – 2020 documentary about the Paralympic Games and its modern day stars. Featuring nine Paralympians from across the world, this cutting-edge movie tells the remarkable story of the Paralympic Games from the rubble of World War II until becoming the third biggest sporting event on the planet. ‘Rising Phoenix’ examines how the Paralympics have sparked a global movement throughout the decades and shows how it continues to change the way the world thinks about disability, excellence, diversity and human potential.  Bebe Vio (Italy), Ellie Cole (Australia), Jean-Baptiste Alaize (France), Matt Stutzman (USA), Jonnie Peacock (Great Britain), Cui Zhe (China), Ryley Batt (Australia), Ntando Mahlangu (South Africa) and Tatyana McFadden (USA) are the nine Paralympic athletes whose exceptional stories are depicted.  Netflix

4.30. Roll With Me-2017 Documentary

Roll with Me (1 hr 28 min)
Newly sober paraplegic, Gabriel Cordell (who lives on LI and could probably come in to talk) wheels his chair across America.

4.31. Run-2020

A homeschooled teenager begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her.

4.32. Sympathy for Delicious (2010)

Sympathy for Delicious (2010) A newly paralyzed DJ gets more than he bargained for when he seeks out the world of faith healing.

4.33. Take a Look at This Heart-2019 Documentary

Take a Look at This Heart-streaming service listings including Netflix and HULU

Movie Trailer

This is the trailer to Ben Duffy’s 4th feature length documentary “Take a look at this heart”. A film about love, sexuality, and the human bond within the disabled community. The film takes you on a journey into the lives of 17 very unique people; some with disabilities and the partners who love them, others struggling to get by in a world that seems to often overlook them. In exploring the confidence and unconditional love that these humans have for themselves and each other, you may begin to question your own notions on life, love, and what it means to really feel in every sense of the word.

Many United Spinal members among the contributing actors

Sponsored in part by United Spinal Association

4.34. The Best of Men (2012)

The Best of Men (2012) In 1943, a refugee doctor from Nazi Germany uses new methods to rehabilitate those with spinal injuries in Great Britain. Based on actual events.

4.35. The Bone Collector

The Bone Collector - 1999, (1 hr 58 min)
Denzel Washington. Tells the story of a quadriplegic ex-homicide detective and his partner try to track down a serial killer who is terrorizing New York City. 

4.36. The Ex

The Ex (2006) (1 hr 29 min)
Comedy stars Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman. Plat: Young Manhattan couple are forced to return to Ohio where the husbands ends up working at the ad agency where her father is assistant director. He is assigned to report to Chip, a competitive, hard-driving guy who's in a wheelchair and who is the wife's ex-boyfriend - from high school. The ex (played by Jason Bateman) still carries a torch for her, so he connives to make the husband's work life miserable to win her back.

4.37. The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016) A man suffering a family loss enrolls in a class about care-giving that changes his perspective on life.

4.38. The Intouchables-Quadriplegic Relationship With Caregiver

The Intouchables-Biography-After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caretaker.

4.39. The Men (1950)

The Men (1950)  A paralyzed war vet tries to adjust to the world without the use of his limbs.

4.40. The Other Side Of The Mountain-1975

The Other Side of the Mountain - 1975, (1 hr 42 min)
Story of ski champion Jill Kinmont who becomes paralyzed from a skiing accident while her best friend suffers that same fate after contracting polio, and how she rebuilds her life.

4.41. The Push-2010 Documentary

The Push-2010
(1 hr 29 min) – documentary about Grant Korgan is a world-class adventurer, nano-mechanics professional, and husband who was injured on March 5, 2010, while filming a snowmobiling segment in the Sierra Nevada back country. He focused his recovery efforts on becoming the first SCI athlete to PUSH himself to the South Pole – attempted in 2012. 

4.42. The Rebound-documentary

The Rebound  (76 min)
Documentary on Miami Heat Wheels Wheelchair basketball team as they journey to a national championship. Also follows the players through daily life with a disability.

4.43. The Sea Inside-2004

The Sea Inside (2004) (2 hr 6 min)
Stars Javier Bardem.  Biography of Ramon Sampedro, a quad who fought a thirty-year campaign in favor of euthanasia and his own right to die.

4.44. The Sessions-Staring Helen Hunt-Based On True Story (2012)

The Sessions staring Helen Hunt is based on the life of Mark O'Brien.

A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest.

4.45. The Unbeaten-Narriated By Dan Aykroyd

"Unbeaten," the second film from award-winning documentary filmmaker Steven C. Barber, is an inspirational story that chronicles the exploits of 31 paraplegics for six days, as they make their way in wheelchairs and hand cycles in what is known as the toughest road race in the world, "Sadler's Alaska Challenge." The course winds 267 miles though the mountain passes of Denali National Park between Fairbanks and Anchorage.

4.46. The Upside-2017

The Upside (2019) (2 hr 6 min)
Remake of film The Intouchable. About a white middle aged quadriplegic man who hires a young black man from the projects to be his caregiver.

4.47. The Water Dance-1992

The Water Dance - 1992, (1 hr 46 min) 
Eric Stoltz, Helen Hunt, Wesley Snipes.  Tells the story of a very diverse group of SCI patients as the go through rehab together and struggle to accept their disabilities.

4.48. The Wheel

The Wheel (2019) (1 hr 25 min)
Sci-fi/action, David Arquette stars as a paraplegic prison inmate who volunteers for an experimental procedure that will restore his ability to walk. Dystopia fight club on steroids!!!

4.49. Wheels

Wheels is about two paraplegics who battle with depression and drug addiction trying to get by. The main protagonist picks himself back up by the end of the film, it's a story of triumph and perseverance. Wheels trailer

4.50. Who's Life is it Anyway 1981

Who's Life Is It Anyway? (1981) Ken Harrison is an artist who makes sculptures. One day he is involved in a car accident, and is paralyzed from his neck down. All he can do is talk, and he wants to die. In hospital he make friends with some of the staff, and they support him when he goes to trial to be allowed to die.

4.51. 'When I Walk'-A Journey Living With MS Documentary

New York By Scooter: Brooklyn Member Exposes Public Transportation Woes


Jason DaSilva has been dealing with the progression of MS for the last nine years. While it has slowed him down physically, it has spurred him creatively. DaSilva, 34, is an accomplished filmmaker whose latest film just debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Entitled When I Walk, ... [Read more...]

Documentary, 'When I Walk' trailer


4.52. Walk, Ride, Rode--Amberley Snyder Story

Walk, Ride, Rodeo on Netflix (2018) is based on the true story of Amberley Snyder from Utah.

"In the wake of an accident that leaves her paralyzed, a champion rodeo rider vows to get back on her horse and compete again."

Amberley has gone on to be a sought-after motivational speaker and has a large presence on Social Media where she maintains communications with those following her ongoing activities.

You Tube: The Ride with Cord McCoy: Inspirational Cowgirl Amberley Snyder This is the early story of Amberley Snyder growing up learning to ride and then as a highly competitive barrel -racer, before and after sustaining paraplegia in a truck crash.

Twitter: "When I made The American in 2015 I didn't know how life changing it would be! I wanted to share this video from that journey!!"

Instagram: Movie-Walk, Ride, Rodeo Barrel Racer, motivational speaker

Amberley Snyder - Home | Facebook › Pages › Public Figure › Athlete
10 hours ago
Amberley Snyder, Elk Ridge, Utah. 230976 likes · 103814 talking about this. Barrel Racer, Breakaway 

5. SCI/D in Print

5.1. NEVER QUIT: A story of perseverance and love

NEVER QUIT: A story of perseverance and love

Never Quit, by Robert Guliani, is a Long Island story of heartbreak and courage that all began back in 1973 when the sixteen year old Robert dove into a wave off Tobay Beach and emerged a quadriplegic. His struggle to graduate with his Syosset High School class, to attend Post University, to find gainful employment working for Met Life in the nascent days of computer programing, his eventual marriage and physical setbacks, are all highlighted in vivid prose and personal anecdotes in Mr. Guliani’s autobiography. For anyone struggling with physical ailments, personal problems, ordinary hardships, Mr. Guliani’s book is nothing but inspirational. The title succinctly captures his can-do attitude, his strength of mind and his unwavering courage in the face of enormous difficulties. Never Quit is a must read for anyone searching for the means to pick themselves up and dust themselves off when faced with the vicissitudes of life . Mr. Guliani’s love of life, zest for living, and quest for adventure, while boldly confronting his physical limitations, can only make us want to celebrate our every breath. Many times, the road we’re on is filled with detours and dead-ends. In the end, what defines us is what we make of it. Take a journey in Mr. Guliani’s shoes and like him never quit.

5.2. C-5-A Wife's Memoir-Judy Pachino

C-5- A Wife's Memoir


On May 3, 2013, my husband, Mel, took a ride on his bicycle. Less than a mile from our home, he hit his stride as he approached the intersection of Smith Avenue and Carla Road. Coming up Smith Avenue from the opposite direction was a black sedan. Visibility was optimum on that temperate spring day, and the driver reported that he clearly saw the cyclist coming toward him. Grossly misjudging the speed Mel was traveling and the distance, the driver turned left effectively cutting Mel off. Bike met car with enough force to send my husband and his bike into the air. The driver walked away from the collision. My husband did not. In one moment, our lives were changed forever. The next months were the stuff of nightmares. I have learned that there is much in life that is out of our control. The only thing truly in our control is how we choose to handle what comes our way. My husband is an amazing role model for this. His story of faith and determination is one that we felt was worth sharing.

See  to purchase this publication.


5.3. Life From a Sitting-Down Perspective

Life From a Sitting-Down Perspective-by Jessica Pabst
Overview provided by Jessica Pabst:

"Life can often be difficult for people with disabilities. With this book I am trying to ease some of that difficulty. I have included tips for everyday activities, bathroom activities, deciding on wheelchair type and accessories, activities away from home, keeping a positive attitude and staying happy, appreciating all of the good things in your life and obtaining all of the good things that you still want in it."

5.4. Push Girl

Push Girl is an inspiring, real, and fresh young adult novel about how life can change in an instant by Chelsie Hill, one of the stars Sundance Channel's series "Push Girls."

Kara is a high school junior who's loving life. She's popular, has a great group of friends and an amazing boyfriend, and she's a shoe-in for homecoming queen. Even though her parents can't stop fighting and her ex-boyfriend can't seem to leave her alone, Kara won't let anything get in the way of her perfect year. It's Friday night, and Kara arrives at a party, upset after hearing her parents having another one of their awful fights, and sees another girl with her hands all over her boyfriend. Furious, Kara leaves to take a drive, and, as she's crossing an intersection, a car comes out of nowhere and slams into the driver's side of Kara's car. 

5.5. This is not a love story.

This is not a love story, by S. C. Megale who lives with Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Lights, camera―all Maeve needs is action. But at eighteen, a rare form of muscular dystrophy usually stands in the way of romance. She's got her friends, her humor, and a passion for filmmaking to keep her focus off consistent rejection...and the hot older guy starring in her senior film project.

Tall, bearded, and always swaying, Cole Stone is everything Maeve can't be. And she likes it. Between takes, their chemistry is shockingly electric.

Suddenly, Maeve gets a taste of typical teenage dating life, but girls in wheelchairs don’t get the hot guy―right? Cole’s attention challenges everything she once believed about her self-image and hopes for love. But figuring this out, both emotionally and physically, won't be easy for either of them. Maeve must choose between what she needs and what she wants, while Cole has a tendency to avoid decisions altogether. And the future might not wait for either.

Funny, emotional, and refreshingly honest, S.C. Megale’s This is Not a Love Scene is for anyone who can relate to feeling different while navigating the terrifying and thrilling waters of first love.

Barnes & Noble:

5.6. We Can Go Anywhere: My Adventures on Daddy's Chair

We Can Go Anywhere: My Adventured on Daddy's Chair 

In this beautiful example of a child's innocence we are taught that a little imagination can take us a long way. What the rest of the world sees as a limitation becomes a great source of adventure and freedom. Little Elaina shows her dad there is much more to him than meets the eye, and in the process proves that love knows no limitations.


Overcoming a Spinal Cord Injury  The Power of Physical Therapy in paperback on Amazon

July 8 2020

'Doris noticed some dead pansies in our son's flower bed on her way to retrieve the morning paper. She stopped to "deadhead" the pansies and, as she bent over from the waist, she fell on her chin and lay there paralyzed from the shoulders down. This book is Doris' message to individuals with osteoarthritis or any brittle cervical spine condition. Never put yourself in a position to fall on your face. In 2013 the Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation research findings reported nearly 1 in 50 people living with paralysis - approximately 5.4 million people in the USA. That number was approximately 40% higher than previous estimates. This book documents experiences with institutions and care providers essential to overcoming a spinal cord injury. This book illustrates the power of Physical Therapy treatment for maximum recovery allowed by the extent of the spinal cord injury to recovery from debilitating illnesses typical of spinal cord injury patients over time. This book should be an encouragement to all facing life changing events that seem insurmountable.'