My name is Taryn Spiegel and I’m a senior in Nursing from University of Maryland College Park. I came across SPINALpedia through my family friend, Ali, who told me this unbelievable story about one of her friends from high school who had been in an accident on a family vacation at the beach.
After hearing Josh’s inspirational story, how he started this foundation and his positive outlook on life, I knew that this is where I wanted to do my internship for my final semester of college.
Starting my internship with SPINALpedia has already been a blessing and it has just begun. Before this opportunity, my knowledge of spinal cord injuries was a bare minimum. I was unaware of the various types of injuries and the types of accidents that could potentially cause them. I was even unaware of the amount of individuals affected by spinal cord injuries. These statistics have been eye opening.
Aside from the basic facts, prior to this internship I had no idea how much physical potential there was for those with injuries as well. Spending hours on the SPINALpedia website has given me the opportunity to watch and read success stories, sports and athletics people can participate in after being injured, adjusting to life after the injury and basic day-to-day activities that people with SCI engage in.
While I’m almost embarrassed to say this, I also didn’t know how many spinal cord injury treatments existed. Stem cell research is a big area that has helped develop a number of treatments for spinal cord injuries. Matthew Reeve, the son of the late Christopher Reeve, has also been busy promoting the progress made in an exciting epidural stimulation treatment funded by the Christopher Reeve Foundation that restores movement to people’s legs and ankles (read more).
Matthew has been raising funds for this research. He hopes to raise 15 million dollars for the next 36 patients interested in this treatment. His ultimate goal is to eventually accelerate the research and give the treatment to anyone that needs it. (watch)
There has also been new generations of exoskeletons for mobility and training in medical recovery. Scientists have been teaching spinal cord injured individuals how to move limbs by thought, merely my implanting a chip called a brain computer interface. Fascinating stuff.
During the initial “the SCI boot camp process” at SPINALpedia, I learned a lot of interesting information about spinal cord injuries. One of my favorite videos I watched was about a peer mentor group up in British Columbia (watch). It’s inspiring to see someone learn from someone else who has been in their shoes and has gone through what they’re dealing with.
Throughout this semester, I hope to learn more about the spinal cord injury community as a whole and about individual members through SPINAlpedia’ s many channels. It would mean so much if I could contribute in some way to better a person’s life with the spinal cord injury. I truly hope my experiences this semester encourage others to get involved with SPINAlpedia’s efforts.