Coping with spinal cord injury- Advice from the pros

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Perhaps the most asked question to people with spinal cord injuries is, “How do you manage so well?” They want to know our secret (as if we have one). Maybe we do and have no idea. I do know this though – going through a spinal cord injury can strengthen you like nothing else.

From quadriplegics on ventilators to walking paraplegics, we all cope in our own way, and I love how many of us have gone a step further- making videos sharing what we’ve learned with the world. Here are three videos straight from real folks with spinal cord injuries, opening up their hearts and souls.

Billy from Seattle

In our first video, meet Billy Price, a great speaker and C6 quadriplegic from Seattle, Washington. In this video, professionally made by the University of Washington Medical Center, he opens up about his injury, which happened when he was in college (he was sleepwalking and fell out of a three story window, breaking his neck and back).

He talks about how in the beginning… he thought life wasn’t worth living if he couldn’t walk, and then he saw the pain in his mother’s eyes when he said that. As years past, he found out how wrong he was – you can still find success and have fun.

Billy went back to college and graduated in five years with an engineering degree. He knows he could have crawled into a hole, but he refused to. He still wants to walk everyday if he could, “but it’s not an excuse to stop living,” he says (love this line). The video also shows his cool downtown Seattle condo and his awesome adapted VW van. Watch the video

Margarita from Denver

The second video comes from a beautiful woman by the name of Margarita Verano.  In 2010, she broke her back at the T12 level while riding a motorcycle tandem in Medellin, Colombia. To cope, she views her spinal cord injury as a rebirth, and she says her injury hasn’t slowed her down one bit. Instead “these wheels were meant to ride,” she says. And she has done some awesome things since her injury.

One of the most impressive is become a certified yoga teacher.  She’s also gotten back into kayaking, a sport she loved before her injury (she grew up in Miami on the beach, buy now lives in Denver, Colorado). In her great homemade video, she shows photos from her life pre and post-injury, and reflects on what she believes her injury means – a second chance to live consciously and with purpose. Watch her video

Brian from South Carolina

And our last video comes from Brian, a paraplegic and avid motorcyclist from South Carolina.  I love this homemade video because it doesn’t beat around the bush.  He tells it just like it is – SCI is not fun, but he gives very practical and helpful advice on how to cope (he helps a lot of injured men online).

Staying busy was the number one thing he says that helped him the first year of his injury. He recommends everybody find something to keep them busy right away after an injury. He worked tirelessly to find a new way to ride his motorcycle after his injury, and find a way did he ever.

He also gives more great advice. One of the biggest – you gotta fight the fight. And another, you can still find things that make you happy. He also talks about the importance of finding normalcy, which can help immensely in the beginning. When he got back to work, his ability to deal with his injury (mentally) became that much stronger. “You have to fight to be happy.” Watch his video

They say dealing with a spinal cord injury is 90% mental and 10% physical, and they may be right.  I do know that the best advice usually comes from people who have experienced it personally, and that makes these videos priceless.

Are you coping with spinal cord injury?  What tips would you give a newbie?

Watch the videos on coping with spinal cord injury!

A new C6 quad from the University of Washington talks about coping with spinal cord injury

Margarito Verano’s poignant video on her rebirth post-SCI and coping with spinal cord injury

Brian, a paraplegic, opens up on how he is coping with spinal cord injury

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