SPINALpedia has gotten a lot of press these past few years, and for good reason — it’s possibly the best video-based peer mentoring site ever. What makes it so good is its extensive library of videos by people with all levels of spinal cord injuries recording their solutions to everyday problems, such as transferring out of bed or into a car, or cooking a meal.
Although you can use SPINALpedia.com whether you register or not, to get the most out of it, it’s best to create an account. Then you can set “tags” for your profile based on what your abilities are. For example, you can list what your trunk function is and whether you have full use of your arms, hands or fingers. Then when you want to see how someone else does something you do — like, say, drive a van — you can search using your tags to pull up a video by someone with roughly the same abilities.
In one video Colin Buchanan, a T4 complete para, shows step-by-step how he transfers into his car, gets his wheelchair in behind him, and drives off. His video is interspersed with helpful tips such as how he crosses his legs when he’s in the car so they don’t spasm as much. This four-minute long video even shows the hand controls Buchanan prefers (he likes a n easily-removed travel system in case someone who is nondisabled drives his car). Everyone transfers and drives differently, but watching a video like this might spark ideas on how an everyday activity like driving might be made a little bit easier. Watch it here.
Watching Buchanan’s video led to a clip of quad Josh Basile driving his highly customized van. Seen here, Basile shows how he uses a three-pronged system that grips on to his wrist. He has a touchpad, too, where he can start the car, control all electronic functions and change gears.
There are videos from quads showing how they zip up coats, get out of bed, and more. A 30-second video by SPINALpedia junior mentor Elizabethk, a C6-7 quad with limited finger function, shows how she holds a cup by moving her wrist up, which secures the cup in her hand. Short and practical, this video has been watched by almost 2,000 people.
There are also videos from both paras and quads showing how they exercise, deal with office accessibility, and the types of DME used. One video posted by martial arts guru Erik Kondo, a T4-5 para who’s 22 years post injury, shows how he quickly walks using long leg braces and a walker. Watch it at here.
Kondo has a fun video posted showing the times of his three children going down a flight of stairs versus his own time. He wins, of course. For a chuckle, watch here.
One member, Ruz2G, a C5-6 quad, has uploaded a whole series called “Cooking for Quads,” in which he shows how he pan-fries chicken, boils eggs, make smoothies, and whatever else he feels like eating on the day these videos were shot. He probably won’t win on Hell’s Kitchen, but in a way that’s good, since he’s cooking the same simple types of meals people eat every day. Watching him can give ideas on how to choose kitchen implements that are easily adaptable. He uses a lot of long, thick tools that can be levered between his fingers. Watch him peel an egg.