Monthly Archives: July 2018

SCI Superstar: Nurse Linda Schultz (from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation)

When you have a spinal cord injury, we all dream of having that perfect nurse that is highly capable, caring, and knowledgeable of all things spinal cord. “Nurse Linda” aka Linda M. Schultz from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation fits this bill and then some. Having worked as a nurse in the spinal cord injury field for over 30 years, she loves rehabilitation medicine and has dedicated her career to it.

Unknown to many is the fact that Nurse Linda is also a Doctor. Her brilliant mind and passion for spinal cord injury led her to work with the Reeve Foundation for several years, including working with Christopher Reeve directly before his passing. A source of amazing advice for people with spinal cord injuries, read on to learn more about the highly informative Nurse Linda.

Why She’s Fearless?

Nurse Linda’s foray into spinal cord injury medicine began early in her schooling. “When I was in nursing school I told a professor how much I enjoyed working with individuals with long term disability. She said to try rehab. I did and was lucky to find my niche right out of school. My first position was at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago,” she says. Linda has been working in this field ever since and she’s proud to be a physical rehabilitation nurse.

I could have specialized in other areas of healthcare but rehab nurses get to know people and become involved in their progression. I like being a part of the entire process. Other health professionals do their thing. I do mine and am happy doing it.” Nurse Linda received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Spinal cord injuries also interested her because of their exactness, which makes it one of the easiest neurological disorders to research. “Spinal cord injury trauma is like a natural research project. Generally, you know what happened, the type of injury, the exact day and time of the injury and the expected outcome. This information cannot be determined in other diseases.”

It was over 20 years ago when Nurse Linda became involved with the Reeve Foundation, which is where she currently works. She suggested to Christopher Reeve himself that he begin doing active physical exercises to his body below his level of injury, which is now known as activity based therapy. “Years ago, an idea about providing activity to the area of the body below the level of injury was proposed. Christopher Reeve was approached. He agreed to participate in this change of treatment philosophy,” she says. “Ah, the power of nurses! The result of adding activity to his routine was a change in ASIA score from A to C. What a significant difference.”

What’s Next?

As Nurse Linda for the Reeve Foundation, she also gets to travel across the country and the world helping people with spinal cord injuries. Each month, she also hosts a webinar called “Ask A Nurse” that’s on the last Wednesday every month at 3:00pm EST. A variety of topics are discussed pertaining to spinal cord injuries.

As for healthy living tips that all people with spinal cord injuries should take heed to, Nurse Linda recommends the importance of sleep and trying to devise a schedule so that you do not get interrupted sleep from catheterizing and turning. She also recommends socializing on a regular basis. “Research lets us know that people need to interact with people for improved mental health.” She’s also a huge proponent of drinking water and deep breathing. “That is a lot of health improvement at no cost.”

If you’d like to meet Nurse Linda, you can find her at the Abilities Expo doling out advice on health issues related to SCI. She will be at the next one in Houston, Texas August 4th, 2018.

“Ask Nurse Linda” official webinar page

– Nurse Linda recommends everyone w/ a SCI keep a free SCI info wallet card on their person. Download yours here

Watch her Videos!

Ask Nurse Linda: Nutrition

Nurse Linda: SCI & Aging

Nurse Linda: SCI & Swelling

The Awkward Entourage

By SPINALpedia Ambassador Antonia Sinibaldi 

Imagine your life is reliant on a single machine that is reliant on a three prong outlet that is attached to an even bulkier power pack, sound good so far? Let’s dive in a bit here..take a moment, close your eyes and picture an unimaginably annoying machine that sounds like an awkward vacuum from the early 90’s, now open your eyes to this awkward long tube of life that is secured by an elastic band that feels like sand paper rubbing against my neck.

If the sand paper feeling rubbing up against your neck didn’t make the hair on your arms stand up, then as always, I like to save the best for last.

To top off the metaphorical cherry on the ice cream sundae, not only is the vent a hefty 30+ pounds but it has has two traveling companions, let me introduce them; thing 1 and thing 2 (queue the musical score from the original cinematic adventure Jaws). Thing 1, being the evil car size battery required to power the vent on the go and last but certainly not least thing 2, where most woman my age have a Louis Vuitton with them at all times, I have this magical cylindrical device known as an oxygen tank which is the perfect addition to every young woman’s entourage.

I am dependent on a ventilator 24 hours a day. Life is difficult for everybody, but being paralyzed from the neck down tends to make things a bit more difficult than usual. The difference between my life and most others is that people can breathe on their own. The ventilator helps me but it is not part of me. Everywhere I go it is on the back of my chair. Ever since I was a little girl I always felt somewhat out of place but with the help of God, he has given me a good life and provided me with purpose.

I have an amazing mother who is my world, my main caretaker, along with family members and nurses. All I have ever known is my injury; I love, I cry, I dance, I sing with my injury. It’s hard to imagine a life without it.

Yes, this vent travels everywhere with me wherever I go but I am not afraid of it and I never let it slow me down. I live life to the fullest. Even though there are moments where I am terrified to be away from “thing 1” a.k.a. the battery bag I never let fear dictate my actions, always pushing ahead. Along with thing 1 and thing 2, my metaphorical Louis Vuitton, I also have an Ambu, “the mascara” that I must keep with me at all times in the off chance that I start arching/spasming.

I can’t pull in the vent when I am spasming so I need the help of Ambu and an oxygen tank.Life is difficult but it is also a lot of fun. I may be on a vent but I sing and go out to see a lot of shows. Musical theater productions are my favorite. I also love going to concerts. No matter where I go and what I do, I know I always need to be careful but that I also have to continue pushing myself and pushing others around me. Regardless of my “condition” there is nothing that will stop me from being who I am.