Monthly Archives: August 2014

Spinal Cord Injured & Grilling: How to Stay Safe


Everybody loves tasty grilled food, but for many people with spinal cord injuries, they get too worried about burning themselves and just don’t even bother. Barbecue and paralysis may not be two peas in a pod, but they can coexist safely, and that is the purpose of our end-of-the-summer post.

You don’t have to live in fear of your grill any longer. Our videos will prove you can use your grill without burning yourself. All you need are a few handy tricks, like the right grill to purchase. In honor of Labor Day, we present you with three of our best barbecue videos below.

Video #1: BBQ Tricks from the Tips Master

Matthew Tilford, a paraplegic from California and the man behind Chair Tips ‘n Tricks, makes dozes of videos and his videos are all about enlightening people with spinal cord injuries to what’s possible, and this video is on grilling, and more importantly – grilling safely. He loves grilling whenever he can.

In the video, he grills lemon pepper chicken and zucchini, and he shares a very important and when it comes to grilling in a wheelchair – making sure your grill is lower than your lap. This way you can have more control of the food without struggling to reach upwards.

He also recommends sitting by the grill for only a few minutes at a time while grilling, and then taking a few minute break away to make sure you doesn’t burn yourself.

Watch:Wheelchair BBQ

Video #2: Firing Up a (Public) Charcoal Grill Independently

Our second video comes from a paraplegic who’s made hundreds of videos. Known as the “Wheelchair Style” guy, he is an L1 paraplegic and is obsessed with doing as much as possible.

In this video, he starts a charcoal grill at a public park for his wife and son. As it usually is with charcoal, it gives him some troubles in the beginning, but soon the grill is fired up and he’s grilling his burgers and bacon like a champ.

Watch: Wheelchair style – Cooking up Bacon Cheeseburgers on Grill at Park

Video #3:  First Completely ADA Compliant Grill

RJ Thomas Manufacturing, located in Iowa, is the first of its kind accessible  outdoor products manufacturer. They have made the first ever ADA-compliant charcoal grill for campgrounds and parks. They also accessible make “camp fire rings,” the cooking grates that go over the fire-pit at a campsite. They make them much easier to use; they’re lighter and easier to rotate.

But their accessible grills are quite something. They stand at only 34 inches high (to make them easier to reach) and they sit on pedestals, for the same purpose. It can also be used with only one hand. RJ Thomas Manufacturing also makes accessible benches and trash receptacles.

Watch: Accessible Grills & Firerings

Summer is almost over SPINALpedia fans. We hope our videos have motivated you. Get out there and grill before you’ll need to don a parka to reach the grill in your backyard. And if you’re feeling really motivated, take a video of you grilling and send it on over. We could use more accessible grilling videos.

Do you have wheelchair grilling tips to share with the world?

Watch the videos!

BBQ tips from paraplegic Matthew Tilford

Paraplegic lighting a public grill on a windy day

A fabulous accessible grill made in Iowa

SCI Superstar: Sam Schroth


Newly crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2015 Sam Schroth, 22 years old from Appleton, Wisconsin, is new to the wheelchair game. She was injured less than two years ago in a freak accident just before she was about to move onto her secondary studies.

But the thing about Sam – she’s one of those determined individuals who despite being a paraplegic couldn’t sit still for long. Not only did she win Ms. Wheelchair America as a newbie paraplegic, she’s switching gears with her studies and is moving onto an even more prestigious degree.

A farm girl at heart with the courage and the drive you would expect, check out our newest SCI Superstar – Sam Schroth.

Why she’s fearless

Sam’s life was literally stopped in its tracks, and a 5 ft. long, 1 ft. wide dead tree was to blame. In May 2013, while helping friends install a dock at a cabin in Northern Minnesota, a dead out of nowhere fell on her back, crushing her T7-8 vertebrae. Her spinal cord was bruised, leaving her with no movement below her belly button, and the injury could have come at a worse time.

A week prior, she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in pre-veterinary medicine.  She loved working with animals ever since her early years on the farm, but after her injury, and her subsequent rehab at Craig Hospital in Colorado, she decided she wanted to change her career aspirations.

Instead of becoming a veterinarian, Sam now wants to become a medical doctor for spinal cord injured individuals; a rehab doc/physiatrist, being that it’s an area she’s now passionately interested in. Sam was also engaged before her injury and was supposed to get married in August of that year, but that plan, along with her other plans, have been delayed.

But the great thing about Sam is that she’s taking everything in stride. Within months of her injury she had the confidence to speak in front of a large group of people at her benefit, sharing them details about her new life, and this amazing quote: “Just like your ability to walk doesn’t define who you are, my inability to walk doesn’t either,” she says.

What’s next?

This skill of communications is the hallmark trait of Sam, and is why she won Ms. Wheelchair America. Along with becoming a doctor, she also wants to use her new life to inspire others, both disabled and able bodied, which is exactly why she entered the pageant for Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin (and won) before competing in the national pageant.

This summer Sam has also been dabbling in handcycling. Craig introduced her to several new adapted sports and she’s excited to see what sport she excels at. A former runner who was planning on running a marathon, she now has his eyes on one day completing a triathalon, and we have no doubt she’ll do it.

A true motivator, we hope knowing Sam exists makes your world brighter. We now leave you with another beautiful Sam quote: “In my life, I  know I will never sit still. Will you?”

What do you think is the best motivator after an injury?

– Sam’s site: Never Sitting Still

– Facebook page: Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin 2014 Samantha Schroth

Watch the videos!

Samantha Schroth – Life Ain’t Baaaad

Samantha giving a speech at her benefit