Monthly Archives: January 2013

SCI Superstar: Grant Korgan

korg2 copy

So what if Grant was an extreme sports enthusiast before his injury, and yeah maybe his need for speed is to blame (he was injured in a snowmobile accident almost 3 years ago doing a jump with his pro-snowmobile team, the Alpine Assassins), but for Grant Korgan, none of that matters. He believes everything happens for a reason and has put his mindset into one of the most positive places I’ve ever seen anyone with a spinal cord injury get themselves into.

No joke – since his injury Grant has been unstoppable, (he credits his positive childhood and continued support from his very cool wife, Shawna). From becoming the first person with a spinal cord injury to trek to the South Pole (last year!) to publishing a book, as well becoming a TEDx speaker (all the while going to rehab and regaining some impressive function), here is a peek into the “Mad Love” world of Reno, Nevada native, Grant Korgan.

Why he’s fearless

Before his injury, Grant says he had it all, and he did. He was a mechanical engineer and president of his own nanotechnology company, recently married to a beautiful wife and was physically active in some really cool sports. He traveled all over the world for whitewater kayaking, was an avid downhill skier, mountain biker, wakeboarder, and was the co-founder of a pro-snowmobiling team. But when he went too far on a jump, missing it by 70 ft. (landing so hard his L1 vertebrae burst on impact), Grant knew his life would be in for a huge challenge. But holy cow, has he been a mental beacon of “Yes I can,” refusing to accept what doctors said was impossible.

But in the world of spinal cord injuries, Grant was pretty lucky. He had a lower injury and his cord was bruised. Within five months his injury, he was standing with the help of leg braces, and last August he walked without canes (watch his video). Grant believes big-time in activity-based recovery (attending therapy at CR Johnson Healing Center at High Fives Foundation and @ Spine Nevada), meaning that if you force the body to move, and do it in a way you love, your muscles (and nerves) will reawaken.

After first going home, Grant focused hardcore on therapy, and he also got back into doing the extreme sports he loves. On his one year anniversary of his injury, March 3, 2011, he was back on a snowmobile. And in the Spring of the same year, he was back on a kayak doing sweet tricks (despite no movement from the knees down).

So when the opportunity arose to go on a South Pole expedition along with another paraplegic, which would ultimately become the documentary, “The Push: A South Pole Adventure,” he was definitely up for it. He sit-skied for 75 mi, taking 2 weeks (and wearing battery-powered thermal stocks to keep his feet warm), ultimately becoming the first person with a spinal cord injury to reach the South Pole January 17th, 2012 (unfortunately the other paraplegic, Paul Davies, had to drop out because of a pressure sore). Watch a teaser for the documentary

What’s next

And last summer, his book, Two Feet Back, was published. It is a really cool book that touches on his disability and accident, but it’s really about the journey everyone takes and how each one of us is a survivor. And the book focuses on his drive for a 120% recovery, which some may scoff at, but…he is one determined guy and really, is halfway there. It’s available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Read more about it here

“I believe its human to fall down. The magic happens when we get back up.,” is areat quote Grant shares when he speaks, another thing he’s gotten into since his accident. Last year, he made his speaking debut with TED, at the Tedx Youth conference in San Diego, CA. He speaks on the limitless possibilities that are in all of us (watch).

As someone with a SCI, it’s hard to not get a little jealous of Grant’s recovery, but how can you not help but love this guy? He could become a guru, that’s how charismatic he is. “Embrace the positivity,” he drives into his listeners to do. Yup, I think he’s onto something.

Follow his blog

Would you trek to the South Pole like Grant Korgan? What are your thoughts on activity-based recovery?

Watch his best videos!

Grant Korgan’s speech “The Goosebumps of Life” for TEDx Youth

Grant Korgan talking about his injury, his wife he totally loves, and his recovery

Grant Korgan’s first time walking without canes after 2 1/2 years of therapy

Teaser for Grant Korgan’s documentary “The Push: A South Pole Adventure”

Taking an adapted shower safely!

shower

I look forward to my shower almost as much as my first cup of coffee, but when I was first paralyzed this was so not the case. I could never warm up afterwards, and it never felt like it used to feel. But now, just feeling just the hot water on my neck and shoulders is enough to make showering one of my favorite things to do now. I finally saw the light.

How do you use of the shower if you can’t walk?  That’s one of the first things kids always ask me. And well, it’s not just a matter of just jumping in the shower now. Things are a bit more complicated for an adapted shower. And the answer? By either using a shower chair, a shower bench or maybe taking a bath. But getting into these contraptions (transfers and the like) is the hard part. Here’s a look at some of the best how to videos what it comes to getting into the shower safely and securely, and some tricks of the trade too.

The cheapest shower modification by far is that basic shower bench, and Fast Eddy, a favorite of ours here on SPINALpedia, has figured out how to do this transfer perfectly. He has a basic shower bench in a built-in tub (he replaces his bench every two years for only $150). In the video, he shows how he transfers himself by carefully angling next to the bench, then putting a towel on the top of the tub’s side (where he places his hand to brace himself) so he doesn’t slip.  He shows the basics of the chair to bench transfer, washing himself using a long loofah sponge and he does it all so effortlessly. Watch his video

The next video is a T2 paraplegic from Australia for the Spinal Hub Connection. He shows a more rare transfer for a paraplegic, but one that works well if you’re lucky enough to have a roll-in shower.  He transfers directly from his wheelchair into his shower chair, which he places in the shower before transferring into it.  He shows the safe way to move your legs once you’re sitting on the chair so he’s able to keep his balance during an adapted shower. Watch him show the transfer

And if you’re a quadriplegic and aren’t as able to keep tabs on your feet during the transfer, you’ll love this DIY creation made by SPINALpedia member fomart, which is a plastic basket he puts on his shower chair’s footrest to keep his feet stay safe during the transfer into the shower chair. It’s a great low cost solution to a problem many people with paralysis how to deal with when they take a shower – the feet not staying where you want them to. Watch him explain his creation

And if you’re looking for an easy way to add a new handle in your shower, you’ll love this video from a paraplegic showing his suction-cup handle . This handle may not be able to take the full brunt of his weight, but it’s indispensable in making sure he’s able to move around safely when he’s on his shower bench. Watch him explain how he transfers and his handle

We don’t get many opportunities as people with spinal cord injuries to really relax and let go, but that hot shower in the morning, so worth the hassle of getting in and out.  Learn to love your shower time, even if it’s an adapted shower.  It will keep your sanity. And remember to make sure your skin is happy while you’re in said showering accouterments.

What tricks have you found work for getting in and out of the shower? Did you teach yourself anything new that you didn’t learn in rehab for a successful adapted shower?

Watch the adapted shower videos!

How to transfer onto a shower bench in a built-in tub

How to transfer into a free standing shower chair (from a manual chair) in roll-in shower

Another para/tub transfer using suction-cup handlebar for a safe adapted shower

DIY protectant shower chair footrest made by C7 quad