Category Archives: SCI Superstars

SCI Spotlight: Kiesha Mastrodimos

For Kiesha Mastrodimos, the last four years have been a cycle of rebirth. From going from a happy-go-lucky teenager to a quadriplegic, and then moving to help others, Kiesha is one unstoppable female. And since her injury, she’s become best known for something many do – making videos using her phone. But what makes her videos different is that she’s getting thousands of hits.

At just 21 years old, she shares a lot too. From showing how she empties her pee bag to one of her most popular videos, showing how she gets into bed completely on her own, it’s all about helping others. She wants to change the world by showing how she does everything, and she is. Read more about this delightful Canadian badass below.

A Sudden Injury

In November 2013, while driving home from babysitting in her hometown in Alberta, Canada, Kiesha and her friend hit a moose. It was a crazy accident (the moose landed on their car, crushing it) that resulted in Kiesha breaking her neck. When the doctor told her she was a quadriplegic, both she and her mom were stunned. “We had never heard of a ‘quadriplegic’ so we took to Youtube to figure out who these people are.”

And this is was when Kiesha’s Life changed forever. She began to see what quadriplegics of her level could and couldn’t do. “And with that, I wanted to help other people who were injured. I want to show them there is still hope and that you are able to have a good and normal life.” She began making videos 8 months post-injury.

Kiesha and her mother Marilyn recorded her first video around eight months after her injury. It’s titled “First Time on Hands C5-6 Incomplete Quadriplegic” and she shows how she can brace herself with her hands in front of her, and it’s only 19 seconds long. With her big smile and great laugh, her videos are definite ‘feel good’ videos.

The Video-Making Queen

Over the last four years, Kiesha’s made hundreds of videos, and many of them document her increase in mobility. From her sitting progress to her core balancing/exercise program for a C5-6 incomplete quadriplegic, her videos get lots of hits. However her transfer videos are some of her most popular. Her video showing how she gets into bed using an overhead life system has over 43,000 hits.

Her most popular video however is where she talks about her injury. “I believe that is appealing to anyone, whether you’re injured, in a wheelchair or not. It’s inspiring and insightful.” And it’s received a little over 44,000 hits. The rest of her videos are on everything from how she takes off her shoes, chopping potatoes, blow drying her hair, plucking her eyebrows and a tour of her new wheelchair accessible apartment (which she just recently moved into).

Her next goal is to take more video requests. As for advice for anyone newly injured, she has this to say. “It’s okay to have bad days. When you’re down because you don’t think you’re making progress, don’t look back at yesterday. Look back further than that. You will surprise yourself at just how far you’ve truly come. You have one life; live it up. You are the only determiner of your destiny.”

Kiesha’s thank you’s: “I would like to add is a HUGE shoutout to my amazing, courageous, loving mom, Marilyn. You are my hero, my idol. The strength you continue to have, after everything you have endured is beyond admirable. You are incredible.

Thanks to my brothers, Tyson, Levi, Jesse, and Seth and mom’s wonderful boyfriend, Ryan, you guys give me strength when I am down. Thanks for always having my back and thank you for absolutely everything you have done for me, even emptying my pee bag 😉. Love you guys so much.

As well as my lovely family, friends, home care ladies, physio and occupational therapists, Dan Passey and everyone I have met along this journey, wouldn’t trade it for the world. Thanks to all that continue to support me as I travel along this road.”

Kiesha’s Links 

Kiesha’s Youtube channel

Kiesha’s Facebook Page: Kiesha’s Road to Recovery

Kiesha’s blog: Wheels Life XO

Watch Kiesha’s Videos!

My Accident Story C5 C6 Incomplete Quadriplegic

Getting into Bed C5 C6 Incomplete Quadriplegic

My New Wheelchair Accessible Apartment C5 C6 Incomplete Quadriplegic

Blow Drying Hair C5 C6 Incomplete Quadriplegic

SCI Superstar: Riley Poor

Riley Poor is a lifelong professional in the world of action sports filming. In his previous AB-life, he was a film director at Red Bull capturing footage of skiing, snowboarding and free-ride mountain biking. “It was the type of dream job that few are lucky enough to encounter,” he gushes.

Post-injury, however, Riley had to re-tool his career, but he’s been able to stay true to what he loves. From becoming an executive producer at Nike to writing a new blog in which he and his girlfriend share their life together in Portland, Oregon, Riley has made an impressive transition since becoming paralyzed. Read on to see exactly what we mean.

Why He’s Fearless

In high school, Riley, now 34, began filming action sports, and he knew right away it was something he wanted to pursue. His career in the industry took off, allowing him to have an amazing professional life in his early 20s. But in 2009, everything changed when Riley jumped into a shallow pool, breaking his neck. “I was jumping off the edge of the pool doing a backflip and a friend jumping in next to me pushed me and stopped my rotation,” he says. “My head lightly clipped the bottom of the pool, and all the angles were just right to dislocate at C5/6.”

Knowing plenty of people with SCI before his injury because of his work in extreme sports, Riley was more prepared than most for his new life with a SCI. “I was surprisingly at peace with my new reality and somehow knew that this was a test I was meant to take,” he says. “I also knew enough quads and paras to know that I would never be the same.”

Once he was discharged from the ICU at a New York hospital, Riley chose Craig Hospital as his rehab facility. “And I hopped a $26,000 flight to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado,” he says, “where I spent the next four months rehabbing.”

Impressively, Riley never let his career fall to the wayside. “My injury was barely a break from work as I was in production on a self-directed documentary for Red Bull that I still somehow managed to deliver on time that year,” he recalls. “My opportunity to come to work at Nike came shortly after finishing the film, and I jumped on it and have been happily riding my desk here ever since.” He is currently an Executive Producer in the production studio at Nike, making films and advertisements.

What’s Next?

About three years ago, Riley’s life improved significantly in two more ways – he met his girlfriend, Andrea, and he began the remodel of a single-story home he recently purchased. On a tight budget and using some awesome creativity, Riley and his architects designed a beautiful universally accessible home without breaking the bank. A one-bedroom home with an open bathroom in the bedroom (with a curved glass shower made from basic materials), his house is something to behold. Go on a house tour with Riley here.

And check out his and Andrea’s blog, Poor House Love. Through their blog posts, they share what it’s like to have a spinal cord injury in a relationship. You’ll find posts on traveling together as a couple, tiny homes for wheelchair users (Riley’s family helped invented the WheelPad), even the benefits of using a hyperbaric chamber to ease chronic pain (it works!).

Life may not be the huge adrenaline rush it was before Riley’s life, but he’s 100% ok with that. He had his fun. “I have a drone that I play with for fun,” he says. “I also enjoy getting out and about on my electric arm bike when the sun is out, and Andrea and I have also become dedicated gardeners.” So yeah, life is still good for Riley, just in a different way.

Post-injury, did your desire to live life at full-speed waver at all?

– Follow Riley & Andrea’s adventures: Poor House Love

 Riley’s blog: The Life of Riley Poor

Watch Videos of Riley

A Day With Riley Poor

Runs for Riley Poor

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