Monthly Archives: December 2013

SCI Superstar: Shannon Chisholm

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Bodybuilding is a sport that celebrates the human body, which is why so many SCIers are drawn to it (we love making what we still got as awesome as possible). But for Shannon Chisholm, she was in love with bodybuilding long before her injury.

Her journey into bodybuilding began over 10 years ago when she decided to change her lifestyle after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The bodybuilding and healthy diet worked, and she was a successful amateur bodybuilder for several years. But her world changed nearly 2 years ago while riding her bicycle to the gym one morning.

Read on for the awesome story of a full-time mother, wife to a high school sweetheart and one of the best paralyzed bodybuilders currently competing,  Shannon Chisholm.

Why she’s fearless

Shannon, 37, grew up in Western North Carolina, which is where she still lives today. She was living a pretty great life. She was a physical therapist assistant and was married to her husband Ray and had two kids.  She was also an amateur bodybuilder, but while riding her bicycle to the gym on July 12th, 2011, a car hit her from behind, permanently paralyzing her.

As crazy as it sounds, Shannon was lucky though because she was wearing a helmet. When she was hit she flew up in the air and landed really hard, breaking her back at T11 and sustaining a complete injury. She still keeps her bloody helmet in her garage as a reminder of that fateful day.

Since Shannon was a bodybuilder before her injury, she was able to fly through rehab faster than most people. After being in the hospital for nine weeks, she was transferred to the famed Shepherd Rehab Center where she impressed and inspired everyone there. She was able to master all her transfers (from bed to floor from car to wheelchair; all of them), in just one week.

For Shannon though, being able to fly through rehab was only one of the good things to come out of her hospital stay. She was also left with a mountain of medical bills because unfortunately she and her husband didn’t have any health insurance at the time of her injury. Her friends however have helped out, organizing a benefit on her behalf – the Chisholm Champion Challenge – where they raised $10,000 for her medical bills a few months after her injury.

Shannon was also determined to return to bodybuilding even though she could no longer compete in the same category. Just 9 months post-injury, was back at her first competition as a paraplegic, and decided to just go, have fun and enjoy herself to get over her nerves. And awesomely, she won first place.

Shannon also been a guest poser an able-bodied competitions, including the Carolina Supernatural Bodybuilding Championship, and has posed at several competition winning many trophies a long way in the wheelchair category. Watch her pose at the INBF Drug Free Wheelchair Nationals

What’s next?

Shannon has also decided to use her injury as a platform for advocacy to help improve the safety on the roads when it comes to bicyclists and cars. Shannon’s injury was not the first caused by a car, and it will not be the last. She has been working with the Asheville on Bikes organization, a bicycling safety group, giving testimony of her accident at public events. Read about her involvement

And Shannon’s day-to-day life has normalized. Just last month she returned to work as a PT assistant, and her home is currently bring remodeled to better accommodate her wheelchair. Lots of big changes for life to continue. I think a few of us out there can relate to this (smirk). You just got to love her fierce determination to carry on.

Strong inside and out, Shannon is one major tough chic.

How have you found strength post-injury?

Watch the videos

Shannon Chisholm posing at the 2012 INBF Drug Free Wheelchair Nationals; Female Class

Shannon Chisholm interviewed by NWCBB (National Wheelchair Bodybuilding)

Shannon profiled by her local news station WLOS

Photo courtesy of Jameskay Young Photography

Enjoying Hot Water: Hot Tub transfers

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There’s nothing more enticing then a hot tub waiting for you to dip into. The bubbles, the steam emanating from a water, the peace you feel as you soak, it’s without question one of the best pleasures of being alive. When you have a spinal cord injury however, getting into or out of a hot tub is a bit more tricky.

Some of us resort to getting lifted into the delicious hot water because we’re not strong enough, while others have figured out clever ways to get themselves in using some serious transfers sills. There’s even a transfer aid available that’s perfect for hot tubs. So stop looking at the hot water lovingly wishing you can get in, and read how it’s possible below.

Our first video comes from seasoned spinal cord injured video-maker WheelzofFortune, a 20-something paraplegic who’s made hundreds of videos showing how he does things in life. In this video of him enjoying a hot tub, he shows how he can transfer himself completely out of the hot tub independently.

Serious upper-body strength is required for it, but if you have a full upper-body movement you should be able to master the transfer. What he does first is bump himself up the steps, then he uses his arms to hoist himself up into his wheelchair. It may sound like a lot of work, but for lovers of hot water, it’s absolutely worth it. Watch his impressive hot tub transfer 

For another transfer back into a wheelchair from a hot tub, check out this video from Wheelchair Style, a paraplegic of 20 years who also loves making videos showing how he does things in life. In his “how-to” hot tub transfer video, he offers lots of tips. His biggest tip – utilize the spa railing for your transfers, as it provides a very good base. Most of these railings are fused deep into the cement, making them safe to use.

He also recommends wearing Crocs, or a similar style shoe, to protect your feet from getting scratched while transferring (hot tub bottoms can run on a rough side). And to make sure you can see your feet while prepping for the transfer and while doing it, he recommends turning off the jets so the water remains clear. Watch his transfer

And if you’re like me and can’t transfer yourself at all into anything, let alone into a hot tub, then the Erogotrans is right up your alley.  This transfer aid is a vinyl sling meant to be used by two people that safely and easily helps transfer you into a hot tub.

It also has handles on each side so those lifting can just grip and go. If you have two people available for lifting, this slick product makes the transfer no worries at all mon. Watch a teenager with CP get lifted into a hot tub using the Ergotrans

Hot water may not be your thing, but if it is, these videos definitely prove you don’t have to let go of that love if you have a spinal cord injury. It may be a bit more work than it was pre-injury, but the healing powers of the warm water makes it more than worth it.

How do you get into a hot tub?

Watch the videos on SPINALpedia!

WheelzofFortune shows his slick hot tub into wheelchair transfer

Wheelchair Style shows how he gets out of a Jacuzzi

Ergotrans, a lift aid you can use for getting into/out of hot tubs