Monthly Archives: January 2014

Let’s Make Some Melodious Sounds

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We’ve blogged about music before here at SPINALpedia, but there are always new musicians to profile. So many of us love music and find ingenious ways to create it  after our injuries. It can be easy to just walk away from the instrument, but don’t fall prey to such an action. Our videos below prove you don’t have to.

All it takes is to realize that it’s not going to be like it used to, and that that’s okay. You can still enjoy making music even if it’s different. You just can’t let your injury or disability take away your love of music, along with so much else. Check out our three videos below that will certainly inspire you to try to get back into music.

Our first video comes from Ms. Wheelchair California 2010 Jennifer Kumiyama, who was also the first person in a wheelchair to become a performer in a Disney production (Aladdin). A California girl, Jennifer was born with Arthrogryposis, a condition the occurs in the womb and causes permanently contracted joints, making it difficult to walk and/or move ones arms.

It can be a tough condition to live with, but Jennifer Kumiyama makes it look beautiful when she’s on stage singing, as this video of her singing a cover of “Hey Mr. DJ” by Zhane with a live band proves. Jennifer performs with her backup singers, letting them chime in throughout.

My favorite part by far is when she raps at the end, sounding almost like the original version. As she rolls around on-stage looking awesome in a printed dress, she may be the most dynamic performer in a wheelchair you’ll ever see. Watch her sing “Hey Mr. DJ” last summer at a benefit for the Ms. Wheelchair California Foundation

Our next video comes from C6-7 quadriplegic Jason Gerling, a professional drummer who’s been drumming professionally since he was 16 years old.  Despite breaking neck in a car accident when he was 23 (falling asleep at the wheel after leaving a late night performance no less), Jason has made a triumphant return to drumming despite now only having two limbs to drum vs. four.

In his video, he talks about the ingenious drum kit he invented that allows him to play the kit drum (the big drum that is usually played with one’s foot), when he plays by hitting a symbol, officially making him viable once again professional drumming world.  He’s so excited about what he’s been able to do that he’s made a DVD sharing his tips, and this video is his trailer for the DVD. Check out this amazing drummer in action

Our last video is for the guitar heads of the world. Made by Robert Florio, a C4 quad who also paints and does stand-up comedy, he has found a way to learn how to still play the guitar. He ingeniously uses a PVC pipe in one hand and his tenodesis splint with a fork in the other to make some melodious sounds. It’s hard to believe the works, but it does .

He calls his contraption the “pic-fork,” and he’s quite proud of it too. In his video, he shows how he plays, and plays several diddies for 7 minutes straight (making it look good). Watch Rob Florio play the guitar

You know, you gotta love music in any shape of form It lifts the soul. Don’t let any disability stop you from getting your music fix too. It just feels too good to miss out on, and you know we’re right.

What instruments have you adapted post-injury?

Watch the videos!

Ms. Wheelchair Cali Jennifer Kumiyama singing at a event

Paraplegic drummer Jason Gerling shares his story

Rob Florio, a C4 quad, playing the guitar with a cool hand splint

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SCI Superstar: Meaghan Rose Gallagher

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Growing up, all Meaghan Rose Gallagher – a fashionista, comic and actress – dreamt about was becoming an actress. She even made it as far as being called back by Juilliard’s drama division, making herself standout among 400 other hopefuls. But the usual path in hitting the big time was not meant for Meaghan. A spinal cord injury would soon have other plans in store.

After her injury however, she refused to let it take her out of the arena of performing. Restructuring her career and becoming a director and comedian instead, read on for the determined and color-coordinated backstory of the flawless Meghan Rose Gallagher.

Why she’s fearless

Growing up in Lake Worth, Florida, Megan was a born and bred beach girl. But when she was 21 and broke her neck in 2005 in a car accident, breaking her neck at the C5-6 vertebrae, she wasn’t sure if performing was still something she wanted to do.  Even her family tried to persuade her, telling her it was possible to still follow her dreams.

After trying acting again however, she says sadly, it just didn’t feel right and she had a hard time enjoying it like before; and this is the part where Meghan’s resilient spirit kicks in. Instead of wallowing in sadness about something she used to love and letting it completely fall to the wayside, she decided to try something new instead, but made sure it was still in the realm of performing – directing.

She decided to take on theater directing a year after her accident. From 2006 to 2009, she directed 12 different plays and even performed in one, The Universal Language. Now that’s some serious dedication to a new art form, not to mention showing her colleagues in the theater world that reinventing yourself is totally possible.

After directing for three years, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida to attend college, and she enrolled in a forensics class, which we all know are heavy on public speaking. Her ability in these classes and at the speech tournaments was good; really good. So much that it inspired her. After including some humor in one of her speeches and getting a response, she decided standup comedy would be something she want to give a go, and she moved her entire life to Gainesville, FL for its active comedy scene.

Once arriving, Meghan had no problem putting herself out there, performing at as many clubs as she could. And her routine is something many people spinal cord injuries will appreciate. Nothing is off-limits in her material, from online dating horror stories to the joys of not working for years and getting weird random compliments from people of Walmart. Watch her do a show at comedy club 1982

What’s next?

Also after arriving in Gainesville, FL, Meghan decided to enroll in classes at Santa Fe College right in town. She’s working towards her associate’s degree in art. A local PBS station in Gainesville also did a cool photo spread of Meaghan’s life since she moved to town.

The photos are a no-holds barred look into her life (love the photo of her applying makeup; she can put on liquid eyeliner like a ninja), the photos show beautifully that life can move on after a permanent injury, but in just a different way. Check it out – Local Life: Meghan Gallagher

I’ve known a lot of people with spinal cord injuries since becoming injured myself, and I must say Meghan is one of the coolest people I’ve met. Heck, the lady loves mermaids and unicorns and admits it proudly.  How can you not love this woman? Bravo to the funny lady from Gainesville determined to make others smile if it’s the last thing she does.

– Like her on Facebook: Meaghan Rose Gallagher

– Follow her on Tumblr: HELLOLAZY

Did you get back into performing after your injury?

Watch the videos!

Meaghan Gallagher doing standup @ The Bull

Meaghan Gallagher doing more comedy @ 1982

Meaghan showing off her new cat Theo Oliver Claude Gallagher

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