SCI Life: Hope from Down Under

Finding Completeness Down Under
Rhiannon TraceyRhiannon Tracey, from Melbourne, Australia, was enjoying a beautiful day at a resort in Bali when a dive into the pool changed her life forever. She was only 20 years old. But she was lucky — despite a C5-T1 break, her spinal cord wasn’t fully damaged. “I started moving my left big toe a month after my injury and was able to semi-lift my left leg a few months after that.”

Gaining back movement, however, still didn’t “fix” everything a spinal cord injury can take away. “My right side is still very far behind and I lack quite a lot of movement throughout,” says Tracey. It also wasn’t enough movement to help her return to her job as a veterinary nurse. So she switched gears and is studying business in addition to everything else. “After leaving the hospital, my recovery became my full time job.”

It was also her rehab experience that inspired her to found the nonprofit, The Next Step SCI Recovery. “Being that SCI is a silent epidemic here in Australia, there are very few recovery options,” she explains. “In your darkest days, the slightest bit of hope is what you long for. After experiencing some great recovery methods myself that weren’t easily accessible to people with spinal cord injuries in Australia, I knew I needed to make a change and make them available.”

SCI1113_2Her foundation is also striving to provide unprecedented access to experts. “We’ve assembled an amazing team of people with all different skill sets behind them, some of them being SCI nurses, physiotherapists and alternative therapists. It’s imperative as well,” she says, “that these different therapies are made available to not only people who are newly injured, but to those who’ve lived with the injury longer as well.”

The center is set to open in late 2013. Learn more at www.facebook.com/TheNextStepSpinalCordInjuryRecovery.

It’s About Time
It may sound like a far-fetched dream, but Wheelstrong Sports is the first business to even try it — create an athletic gear label exclusively for adaptive athletes. Matthew Celebreto, a T8 paraplegic from Cranston, R.I., felt the notion of a website that promotes adaptive sports through apparel and gear was a long time coming, which is why he decided to found Wheelstrong in early 2013.

The website sells regular tees, muscle tees with the Wheelstrong logo, as well as exercise accessories like water bottles, key chains and bracelets.  You can also click on “Wheelstrong Women” and watch a video of paralyzed bachelorette Rachelle Friedman, who demonstrates that females can be strong and paralyzed, too.

Look for workout tips, diet advice and more on a daily basis from this site.  It will also be sponsoring adapted athletes, and the first athlete is adaptive waterskier Matthew Tillford.

Check it out: www.wheelstrong.com

SCI1113_3Bed Pressure Mapper
Pressure mapping is an amazing way to create custom seating, but wouldn’t it be great to use this technology when you’re in bed? The MAP System strives to do just that, using both continuous feedback and reposition notification. It’s currently only available in hospitals, but hopefully personal use is right around the corner.

Here’s more: www.themapsystem.com

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