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

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