My husband has a spinal cord injury (SCI) and has been in a wheelchair for nearly 30 years. Because I know what it is to live with a spinal cord injury, I am passionate about representing people with spinal cord injuries.

As a spinal cord injury lawyer, I know that an SCI can turn your life upside down in an instant. And the change can come whether you are the one injured, or the mom, the dad, the spouse, the child, the sister, the brother, the girlfriend, or the best friend, of the person injured. One of the most moving things I have ever beheld was a father bowed with grief because his son had just gotten an SCI and was a quadriplegic – just like his other son, who had suffered a brain injury years before.

For both quadriplegics and paraplegics, SCIs weave their way into your daily life. From not being able to reach the top shelves at the grocery store to not being able to get into the bathroom at a restaurant, your life changes in ways both small and large. You incur enormous costs – from catheters, to wheelchairs, to roll-in showers – just to be able to do the same things that you could do for free before your injury.

But people with SCI – and the families who love them – are some of the most amazing clients I have. These clients make heroic efforts to do what should be effortless. They bear daily indignities with grace. Their families rally around them, silencing their own grief, in order to help. I have seen mothers lose jobs because they refused to leave a child’s bedside. I have seen parents take two jobs to try to pay for all the extra costs that are incurred. I have seen fathers pushing their children’s wheelchairs, and children pushing their fathers’ wheelchairs.

Each month my husband and I host an event with our church at Shepherd Spinal Center, so we continue to be reminded of the overwhelming grief and the exhausting effort that follow a catastrophic injury. We also witness the triumphs, as these patients push themselves harder and further than they could have dreamed, with the aid of the phenomenal staff at Shepherd Spinal Center.

To all of the courageous people battling a spinal cord injury, this page is dedicated to you.

ON THIS PAGE:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR SPINE GETS INJURED

When the spinal cord gets damaged, your body may lose its ability to function or feel. Spinal cord injuries can occur from trauma (such as car wrecks, diving accidents, or surgery) or from disease. A spinal cord injury (“SCI”) can render your limbs or parts of your body inoperable.

The spinal cord runs through bones called vertebra. Your doctor may tell you that your injury is a “C-4” or a “T-6.” This numbering system tells you exactly where along the spine your injury occurred. The spine is divided into three sections: cervical (neck), thoracic (from the neck down to the pelvis), and lumbar (pelvic). For shorthand, doctors refer to injuries in the cervical region as being “C”, while thoracic injuries are designated with a “T”, and lumbar injuries with an “L.” The vertebra in each section are then numbered, beginning at the top with “1”. Thus, A “C-4” injury occurred in the area of the fourth vertebrae in the cervical region.

Speaking in very broad terms, people with cervical injuries usually have some loss of function in all four limbs, which is called “quadriplegia.” The higher the injury, the greater the loss. People with thoracic injuries usually have some loss of function in their chests and legs, but their arms continue to function normally. People suffering lumbar injuries lose some function in their legs and hips. People with thoracic or lumbar injuries generally suffer “paraplegia.”

For a very useful explanation of spinal cord injuries and how they can affect motion and feeling, click to link to this website:
http://www.spinalinjury.net/html/_spinal_cord_101.html

USEFUL LINKS ABOUT SPINAL CORD INJURIES

THE MODEL CENTERS

A list of the current Model Spinal Cord Injury Regional Centers .

The web pages for the 16 current Model Centers for spinal injuries:

Alabama

University of Alabama at Birmingham Model Spinal Cord Injury Care System (“UAB”)
Birmingham, Alabama

California

Southern California Spinal Cord Injury Model System at
Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center

Colorado

The Rocky Mountain Regional Spinal Injury System
Craig Hospital, Englewood, CO

Washington, D.C.

National Capital Spinal Cord Injury Model System
MedStar Research Institute.

Florida

South Florida Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System
University of Miami, Miami, Florida

Georgia

Southeastern Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System at Shepherd Center
Shepherd Center, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia

Illinois

Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System (MRSCIS)
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC).

Kentucky

Frazier Rehab and Neuroscience Spinal Cord Injury Model System (FRNSCIMS)
University of Louisville Research Foundation, Inc.

Massachusetts

NERSCIC: Improving the Lives of People with SCI Across the Lifespan through Innovative Science and Technology
Boston University Medical Center

Spaulding Harvard Spinal Cord Injury Model System
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

The New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center
Boston University Medical Center

Michigan

University of Michigan Spinal Cord Injury Model System
University of Michigan

Ohio

Northeast Ohio Regional Spinal Cord Injury System
MetroHealth System

Pennsylvania

Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center of the Delaware Valley
Thomas Jefferson University

University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury
University of Pittsburgh

Texas

Texas Model Spinal Cord Injury System
The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR)

Washington

Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System
University of Washington

GENERAL RESOURCES

National Rehabilitation Resource Center (NARIC)

National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA)

Spinal Cord Injury Information Network

Makoa.org

Apacure.com

American Spinal Injury Association

American Syringomyelia Alliance Project

Paralyzed Veterans of America

Spinal Cord Injury Manual, University of Miami School of Medicine

Spinal Cord Society

Syringo.org – Syringomyelia Information

Sci-Info-Pages

CHAT ROOMS

Spinal Injury Network

TRAVEL FOR PEOPLE WITH SPINAL CORD INJURIES

Must-know airline info: Tips for travelers with disabilities

Access-able Travel Source

Makoa.org (many links)

Home Remodeling for People with Disabilities: What You Need to Know

HIGHER EDUCATION RIGHTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS

http://www.bestschools.com/disability-resources