Category: Rehab




Individuals who adjust well to unexpected events generally lead healthy, active, and happy lives after their injury. Individuals who do not adapt well to unexpected events tend to be less healthy, less active, and unhappier after their injury. Unhealthy behavior almost always leads to unhealthy results. When you neglect your personal care, you put yourself at greater risk for developing a wide range of health problems such as respiratory complications, urinary tract infection, and pressure sores. These problems can limit your ability to participate in activities. Substance abuse can complicate existing medical problems or lead to other health problems.

When you are first injured, it takes time to get use to your life after injury. Some people grieve longer than others, so the adjustment period is different for everyone. It may take as much as a year for you to accept the realities of your injury. You will also experience a continued process of adjusting to the unique issues that occur in your every day life as a person with SCI.

Healthy Adjustment to SCI
One of the biggest keys to adjusting to spinal cord injury is personal motivation. Individuals who are newly injured are often motivated to attend therapy sessions out of a desire to gain strength and function. You probably have a strong belief that your paralysis is only temporary, and you will soon return to your old, “normal” self. This hope is a common reaction after an injury. Unfortunately, it is far more likely for individuals to recover function based on their level and completeness of injury. In fact, only a few people actually fully recover from their injury. This does not mean that all hope is lost for a full or partial recovery. Almost all individuals with SCI continue to hope that they will walk again one day. However, a cure for paralysis may or may not come in your lifetime. A healthy approach to this reality is to move forward with your life after injury with the continued hope that advances in medicine will one day lead to a cure. In other words, do not wait on a cure to proceed with your life!

People who adjust well to life after injury are usually motivated to meet personal goals. These goals are different for everyone and often change throughout life. For example, your goal today may be to get a job, and you may want to have children in the future. Itt is up to you to find purpose in your life and the motivation to achieve your goals. It may help to think about what you wanted out of your life before you were injured. For example, you may have once strived for good health, an enjoyable job, and a loving family. There is no reason that you cannot continue to strive for the same things now that you have a spinal cord injury.

Healthy Family Adjustment to SCI
As an individual with SCI, it is important to recognize that your injury also has a tremendous impact on your family. Although they may not have to adjust to losing the use of their hands or ability to walk, your family may experience a loss of the way their life was before your injury. For example, they may have to adjust to the role of caregiver. They may need to work to help with family finances. All of the changes that they face can lead to added stress and anxiety. As your family comes to accept the injury, they face issues of adjustment similar to those you may experience.

Children are naturally curious and adjust to events by asking questions. They ask questions because they make few assumptions about how the injury impacts their life. Therefore, children adjust rather quickly to an injury if their questions are answered in a clear, honest manner.

If you are a family member, healthy family adjustment is, essentially, taking care of you. For example, you can take time away from your loved one to do those things that you enjoy. You can help minimize your stress and anxiety by working to replace your own false assumptions, unrealistic ideas, and irrational beliefs. You can start by learning the facts about SCI. Then, challenge your irrational beliefs with evidence to dispute your beliefs. Finally, replace your false information with facts. Hopefully, you will soon discover that you too are living a healthier, happier, and more satisfying life.

No matter if you have a spinal cord injury or not, you have control over your life by choosing how you want to think about your situation. You can be happy and more hopeful about your life, but it will only happen when you work to make it happen. Your thoughts, feelings, and behavior do not change overnight. It takes time to grieve your loss and come to accept the realities of the injury. Then, you face a continued process of adjusting to everyday issues of living with SCI. If you avoid false assumptions, unrealistic ideas, and irrational beliefs, you will give yourself more opportunities to reach your goals and have the life that you desire.

CEO Luis Peña & VP Kaylin Winkelmann

CEO Luis Peña & VP Kaylin Winkelmann

A Casa Grande man who is a former U.S. Border Patrol agent created and patented a video game controller for people with severe spinal cord injuries.
Luis Pena formed LP Accessible Technologies and created the controller out of necessity. He was injured in an auto accident on the job in 2007 and is a quadriplegic.
His company focuses on building video game controllers that disabled people can use to play video games.
A longtime video game buff, Pena missed playing games after he recovered from the accident. So, he set out to create a controller he, and other people with disabilities, could use.
The result is the LP Pad, which Pena says is just like an Xbox remote control except for its size. It operates like a regular remote through Bluetooth technology and is fully compatible with the Xbox 360 gaming system.
It weighs less than a pound and is made specifically to sit on the user’s lap. The controller features large buttons that are activated simply by brushing a hand across them.
“People who are like me can only push with like three or four pounds of pressure,” Pena said.
Or, users can plug a “chin stick” into the LP Pad, and they’re ready to play any video game made for the Xbox.
Pena said he is working hard to get the controller available for use on PS3 gaming systems and hopes to have one developed within a year.
For now, he is taking his controller all over the country to show people with disabilities how they can again enjoy playing video games.
“I’m hoping eventually we can get a licensing agreement from Microsoft so we can sell these game controllers at a lower cost at Best Buy, GameStop, Wal-Mart, anywhere,” Pena said.
Pena’s controllers sell for $399.99. The controller can be purchased at
The back story
Oct. 18, 2007, is a date Pena will never forget, even though he still doesn’t know exactly what happened that day.
He remembers going to the bank to open an account and was scheduled to work that night, beginning a “camp duty” in which agents stay in the desert for seven days. Pena’s been told he reported to work at the Border Patrol station in Casa Grande and was en route to back up another agent in the desert — but he never made it there.
Investigators don’t know exactly what happened except that his vehicle rolled over while traveling through the Tohono O’odham Nation.
“I was driving on a straightaway — you could see skid marks go right and come back left and then I rolled over,” Pena said. “The assumption is that perhaps cattle or horses got in the way and that’s what made me roll over. We’ll never know for sure.” Pena said he was strapped in and not ejected.
Pena woke up a month later at University Medical Center in Tucson and was told he was paralyzed from the chest down after suffering a C6-C7 spinal injury. He said the doctors immediately sedated him after he woke up.
“Knowing what my body looked like before — when I woke up and looked at my arms and saw the atrophy, I really freaked out,” he said.
“It’s one of those things that because of my training in martial arts and so many people coming to help me out, I just was able to say ‘OK, this is what it is and it’s time to move on to a new chapter in my life.’”
After his injury, Pena and his family lived in a hotel for eight months while renovations were be made to his two-story home, making it wheelchair accessible. An elevator was installed, his yard relandscaped and he was given a custom van that he still drives.
Pena was officially retired from the Border Patrol in 2012, ending his nine-year career with Homeland Security. Prior to joining the Border Patrol, Pena was a police officer with the Amtrak Police Department in Philadelphia and helped in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorism attacks in New York City.
Before his accident, Pena was active in martial arts, a fourth-degree black belt in four different styles and also fought in mixed martial arts.
The new story
Pena requires assistance from a caregiver, and after four years of help from Kaylin Winkelmann, he says she’s his best friend. Winkelmann is also Pena’s business partner in LP Accessible Technologies.
Starting the company was a big step for Pena.
“It’s hard not to get excited and at the same time we’re nervous because we spent so much time and money just trying to get the prototype pad working correctly,” he said. Pena and Winkelmann travel to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, trade shows and conventions to demonstrate the controller.
“Everybody that has used it absolutely falls in love with it. There is nothing out there at all for people like us,” with spinal cord injuries, Pena said.

CEO Luis Peña & VP Kaylin Winkelmann

CEO Luis Peña & VP Kaylin Winkelmann

imageBBC News and a host of other media outlets are featuring an exciting breakthrough in the repair of spinal cord injuries in paralysed rats. The rats have regained bladder control, a major issue for people living with spinal cord injury, in response to nerve cell transplants alongside a series of injections of chondroitinase.

The project led by Dr Jerry Silver of Case Western Reserve Medical School, Cleveland, Ohio, builds on the findings of a previous project funded by Spinal Research which saw this approach restore independent breathing in rats. An interesting side effect they noted during the original work was the change in bladder function, which prompted the project now making headlines.

A major hurdle in spinal cord repair is the scar tissue that forms at the site of an injury. This new project’s use of chondroitinase, known to breakdown scarring, in addition to the graft of nerve tissue on the injured spinal cord means that injured nerve cells could regrow – some as long as 2cm. As a result the rats regained bladder function meaning that they could urinate unaided.

Dr Mark Bacon, Director of Research at Spinal Research commented:

“It is increasingly evident that if we can establish better communication between the cord above the injury and the cord below, as Silver and colleagues have, we can engage with an intelligent cord that can make use of even rudimental signals and turn them into functionally useful activities. Coordinated bladder function has enormous beneficial consequences for people with spinal cord injury and this is extremely encouraging work showing we are going in the right direction.”

It is hoped that this approach or similar will eventually be used to help people living with paralysis regain independent bladder control.

January 23, 2013 – Doctors at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, performed the first-ever Food and Drug Administration approved Schwann cell transplantation in a patient with a new spinal cord injury. The procedure, performed at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, is a Phase 1 clinical trial designed to evaluate the safety and feasibility of transplanting the patient’s own Schwann cells.

“This historic clinical trial represents a giant step forward in a field of medicine where each tangible step has tremendous value. This trial, and these first patients in this trial specifically, are extremely important to our mission of curing paralysis,” said neurosurgeon Barth Green, M.D., Co-Founder and Chairman of The Miami Project, and Professor and Chair of Neurological Surgery. “The Miami Project team includes hundreds of scientists, clinicians, and technicians who have joined hands to make the ‘impossible possible,’ for which this trial is a key goal and dream now being realized. This achievement reaffirms that the tens of millions of dollars and the incalculable work hours were well invested in this first of a kind human Schwann cell project.”

Led by W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., Scientific Director of The Miami Project and Professor of Neurological Surgery, Neurology and Cell Biology & Anatomy, the Schwann cell clinical trial team at The Miami Project is composed of a multi-disciplinary group of basic science and clinical faculty members, scientific staff, and regulatory personnel focused on advancing the trial. The transplantation procedure was conducted by the Principal Investigators of the trial, Drs. Allan Levi, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Neurological Surgery, Orthopedics, and Rehabilitation, and James Guest, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery. The patient had a neurologically complete thoracic spinal injury and received the transplantation of autologous Schwann cells about four weeks post-injury. There have been no adverse events and the team is moving forward with the trial.

“As a basic scientist, the hope is always to increase knowledge and discovery,” said Dietrich. “Not every day are you able to see that translated into the clinical realm with the hopes of bettering the lives of those suffering, so this Phase I clinical trial is a vital step for the field of SCI research, and for The Miami Project team that has been working diligently on this therapeutic concept for more than a quarter of a century. This trial, when completed successfully, will lay the critical foundation for future cell-based therapies to target spinal cord injuries.”

The Miami Project clinical trial will enroll a total of eight participants with acute thoracic SCI. Newly injured patients brought to the trauma center would have to meet the stringent inclusion criteria. The participants will undergo a biopsy of a sensory nerve in one leg to obtain the tissue from which to grow their own Schwann cells. The Schwann cells are then grown in a state-of-the art culturing facility for three to five weeks to generate the number of cells necessary for transplantation, and to undergo the strict purification process. By the time the Schwann cells are surgically transplanted into the injury site, participants will be 26-42 days post-injury.

All procedures will be conducted at UM/Jackson and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, with colleagues at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Each participant will be followed intensively for one year after receiving the transplantation surgery, and their neurologic status, medical status, pain symptoms, and muscle spasticity will be evaluated. It is expected that it could be two to three years from the time the first subject is enrolled until the final subject is one year post-transplantation. All participants will continue to be monitored for an additional four years under a separate clinical protocol. This Phase I trial is the foundation upon which The Miami Project will develop future cell transplant trials targeting different types of injuries, times post-injury, and therapeutic combinations.

aaa300237_497793696945779_1946248913_nIntroducing Beyond The Chair, the amazing, spectacular, life-changing gym. Beyond The Chair is a non-profit organization founded by Nito Blochlinger and Laura Dominguez-Tauer in 2012. Laura is a C6 quadriplegic and Nito has worked in the adaptive exercise field, specifically spinal cord injury recovery for the past 10 years.
Their mission is simple: to provide an improved quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries and other neurological disabilities through intensive exercise programs. Basically they ROCK!! Their Certified Neuro-Fitness Specialists use exercise techniques to train the body in functional movement patterns.
The benefits you ask? Got a moment? Or twenty? Lol.
Beyon The Chair, their amazing staff and their FANTASTIC program:
Improves circulation, blood pressure, cardiovascular endurance and range of motion. Temperature control, sensations, mobility and ability to function independently.
Maintains bone density
Increases muscle mass and strength
Reduces muscle spasms and spasticity
Potential to reduce pain and depression
Don’t think of it as just a gym or and occupational/physical therapy. It’s a post rehab program that targets to compliment and improve the clients level of function. It offers specific programs that are designed for each individual and their needs, whether it be training in their gym, or them coming to you. Even group training!!
Don’t think they are only specializing in SCI (spinal cord injuries). They also provide services for Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s, Geriatrics, Spina Bifida, Rett Syndrome, ALS, Fibromyalgia, Amputees, Guillain-Barre, Alzheimer’s and Weight Management. Ummmmm.. MULTI-TALENTED!!!
They have the regular machines you would find in a gym and they also have specialized pieces of equipment as well. For instance, they have a motorized elliptical machine that they harness clients into and it’s adapted to produce a movement pattern that mimics a natural gait while in an upright position; helps improve the ambulation of clients.
You ready for the Disney success story? They happy ever after? How’s this: Parents of a 4 year old cerebral palsy client of theirs was told their son would never walk in his lifetime. When they first started working with him, he could only take 2-3 steps on his own. Now he is able to walk up to 60 unassisted steps on his own! WHOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!!!!
They are holding their first annual golf benefit on June 1, 2013 where ALL PROCEEDS BENEFIT SPINAL CORD INJURY RECOVERY AND OTHER NEUROLOGICAL DISABILITIES!!!! Check out their Facebook page for more information on that
In a nut shell, this place is one-of-a-kind SPECTACULAR!!!! I encourage EVERYONE to check them out, Google them, LIKE them, SHARE them and SUPPORT them!!!