I decided I would make my last blog a very personal subject to me. I suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident 30 years ago, on Canada Day, at Wasaga Beach, north of Toronto. I was only 20 years old at the time, and, needless to say, it changed my life forever. After spending a year in the hospital, and spinal rehab hospital, I have been fortunate enough to be able to live on my own, with the help of caregivers, who come to my home to assist me with daily living activities. This allows me to live an independent life, and devote the majority of my time towards helping find a cure for paralysis. Most people look at a spinal cord injury and see that the individual is paralyzed and cannot walk. However, a spinal cord injury goes way beyond just not being able to walk. That is the point I am trying to emphasize. There are countless secondary health issues associated with spinal cord injuries. Personally, among the health related issues that I’ve had to deal with, include, four bouts of pneumonia, skin pressure sores, scoliosis, osteoporosis, venal blood clots, sleep apnea, partially collapsed lung, countless UTIs, and digestion issues, just to name a few. I wanted to mention this because there needs to be an emphasis on the education of spinal cord injuries as it relates to secondary health issues, as these are the issues that ultimately kill people with spinal cord injuries. Back when my injury occurred, there was very little knowledge on how to deal with all of these issues. Fortunately, though, research and awareness has brought a lot of attention towards these health issues, as a result, greatly improving the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation website provides some easy understand details concerning secondary health issues associated with spinal cord injuries.
Everyone with an injury who suffers paralysis, of course, dreams of being able to walk again, and function like a normal able-bodied person. However, in the meanwhile, just being able to improve the quality of life, and still live life to the fullest is an immediate priority. There will always be barriers for any individual who is confined to a wheelchair, but it does not need to prevent you from living a full prosperous life. Prior to social media, the only way the general public learned anything about spinal cord injuries was by either reading, or seeing it on the news. Usually it would only be in the news if there was some kind of medical breakthrough, or, unfortunately, if someone well-known or famous happened to suffer a spinal injury. The best example of this would be when actor Christopher Reeve broke his neck in an equestrian accident. This was a high-profile celebrity, who suffered a catastrophic injury. Despite being completely paralyzed, and unable to breathe on his own, he became a champion for spinal cord injury and awareness, up until his death seven years after his injury. His death was the result of sepsis, another secondary health issue.
Since then, the onset of social media has dramatically improved education, awareness, and as a result, research initiatives towards helping individuals enjoy quality of life. The organization I work with, Canadian Spinal Research, is very active on social media, in an effort to create awareness for spinal injury research. Our social media platforms include, Facebook, Twitter, our Blog, and even Instagram. The CSRO Blog provides a great range of information for anyone living with a spinal cord injury. We have also transitioned from fundraising events that require participants to actually come and take part in an event, to include online campaigns, including donate a photo campaigns, and online 50/50 draws. This is a great way to appeal to a larger audience, while avoiding the logistics of putting an actual day of event together. I certainly see a point where all of our fundraising is essentially done online through social media. So I think a great question to ask, for my own personal knowledge even, is if you have identified a charitable cause that you would like to contribute to somehow, would your preference to be to support the charity through some kind of online donation-type campaign, through a social media platform, or by participating in an actual event? Such as a golf tournament, or a benefit concert, or any other type of event that would require you to come out in person.