Category Archives: Ask A Professional

How to Promote Your Cause Like a Marketing Genius

Mana Ionescu is the president of the Chicago digital marketing agency Lightspan Digital. She explains how we can use digital storytelling and a few social media best practices to promote a HelpHOPELive campaign.

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“I’ve always been interested in how people get their information, and particularly how we interpret what we see and hear in the media. I studied the subject in grad school. My fascination with how we create and share stories led me to marketing. With the rise of online communication, digital storytelling took the lead as one of the most powerful marketing strategies.


Grow Your Network


Social sharing can be an effective way to market your cause. But first things first, you need to decide if you’re ready to share your Facebook page (and your cause) with some of the people you may not already have connected with on the platform. If you are comfortable with the crossover between your personal life and your cause, sync your Facebook account with your email address book and invite people you know to connect.

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Sync your Facebook account with your email address book to find new followers

The best way to grow a following is to first follow other people. A certain percentage of those will always follow you back. Over time, you can unfollow those who aren’t receptive.


Make a Plan and Don’t Believe the Hype


What you’re looking for is a strategy and a plan. Just posting on Facebook may not be your first and only solution for outreach. If you think narrowly like that, you’re limiting yourself and your possibilities and the odds are that you’re not going to get the most out of marketing.

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Do you have an engagement roadmap, or are you lost in the woods?

We get sucked into time-consuming discussions about vague concepts and buzzwords. “Engagement” is one of those. Recently, the term “content curation” is taking over. You have to dig deeper than that to get results from social sharing. There is no simple formula. There’s a lot of wasteful outreach out there, marketing that is not done with purpose.


Strengthen Your Strategy


Just posting on Facebook won’t get you extra support. You need to engage your donor base to share your messages with their friends. Use social media as a catalyst for your existing fans to get your messages out.

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What kind of posts do your followers respond to most?

Craft different stories around the call for donations, and play with the calls to action. For example, “Donate” is the most commonly used call to action. But A/B tests show that “Give” may actually be more effective language. You can also use terms like “Contribute” or “Participate” or “Join Me” to ask for donations. Vary your calls to action for best results.


Keep It Classy – Or Else


I’ve known a person who, for years, posted negative things about her employers to her personal Facebook account. One day in a meeting, a business owner shared that “negative Nellie” applied for a job with the company but she was passed over because of her history of negative posts.

Remember that you are under the microscope. Whether you like it or not, you are now a representative of your cause, even when you are “off the clock.” Do not post mean-spirited posts from your personal account. Keep it clean.


The Bottom Line: Creative Connection


Storytelling is about sharing experiences, and that’s how people come together: through shared experiences that elicit emotions. You have to communicate, communicate, communicate. Share your stories AND the stories of others who support you. Make it all about people. Figure out how to motivate your supporters to bring in more supporters, whether it’s through a creative contest or an emotional tug.

Digital marketing pushes you to be social. It’s a very people-focused space. That’s thrilling to me, because I love getting to know people and learning from others.”


Mana is the president of Lightspan Digital, a Chicago digital marketing agency. Connect with her on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

Why Injured Athlete Eric LeGrand Will “Never Accept a Satisfying Life”

Six years ago, Eric LeGrand sustained a spinal cord injury while playing football for Rutgers University. The standout defensive tackle became paralyzed from the neck down with a 0-5% chance of regaining neurological function according to his doctors.

In 2011, after months of intensive therapy at the renowned Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, Eric was weaned off the ventilator, and recovered movement in his neck, shoulders and trunk. He signed an honorary NFL contract in May 2012 as an undrafted free agent. A sports broadcaster, today, Eric continues to strive for mobility and independence while fundraising to support advancements in spinal cord injury research and adaptive technology.

We asked the founder of Team LeGrand of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation what keeps him moving forward.

Eric LeGrand

Eric, now a sports broadcaster, maintains an honorary NFL contract


Eric, how much did you know about spinal cord injuries before you were injured?


I knew nothing of spinal cord injuries before I was injured. During my recovery, there was so much new information about physical therapy, basic care, medications and insurance…it was extremely overwhelming for my mother and me. That was when we learned about the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. They answered all our questions and helped us to navigate through this new part of our lives.


How did family and friends respond to your injury?


My family and friends were, naturally, concerned. Doctors said I would be using a ventilator to breathe for the rest of my life and that I may never eat solid foods again. My mother set the example that they would all be positive and supportive as I worked through the first few weeks of my recovery. She would kick out anyone who was being negative or doubtful about my progress.

I feel that her approach helped a lot for my own mindset. Before I knew it, I was breathing on my own and back to eating my favorite meals. I was receiving Tweets and texts from my Rugers family wishing me the best. Even my coach would come to the hospital so my mom could get some rest. People don’t always realize that the little things mean the most in those moments.

When I returned to the Rutgers Stadium in 2011 to lead the team out to field in their game against West Virginia, the fans cheered and shouted at my return, showing nothing but love and support. It was the moment I’ll never forget.


How did it feel when you began to regain some bodily sensation?


The first sensation I felt was in my shoulders. For the first time in a while, I was able to shift my neck. That little spark of movement has been fuel that keeps pushing me forward. If we can find technology to help individuals like me regain sensation and movement, it will be a game changer and it will have major health benefits for people living with a spinal cord injury.

Eric LeGrand

Eric believes treating paralysis through technology “will be a game changer”


What helps you to stay motivated today?


The staff at Kessler Institute in West Orange, NJ has kept me going, even on tough days. There will always be times when I don’t feel like doing my physical therapy, or just feel down, but they don’t let me make excuses. They keep me positive and inspired to continue improving, even if it is just a little bit.

I have learned to appreciate the small milestones, like gaining movement and sensation in my lower shoulders, which I can then use to move my arm a bit. A few years ago, I couldn’t do that. All these small victories lead to the bigger ones, and eventually, my end goal of walking again.

I’ve been fortunate to have people follow me from before my injury who continue to provide support up to this day. I don’t feel like a different person. Yes, things have changed and I’m not able to do certain things, but for the most part, I’m still me. While living with paralysis, I have been able to build success on a different path than I intended. I am happy with the results.

Eric LeGrand

Eric’s “different path” post-injury includes a busy career and advocacy work


When did you realize how expensive a spinal cord injury could be?


One of the moments that was an eye-opener for me was when it was time for me to leave the hospital. I realized I wouldn’t be able to move around my home with my wheelchair because of spacing issues. We had to completely rebuild the house from the ground up. You may not realize how inaccessible your home is until after an injury, and the cost is huge.

Insurance won’t pay for at least half of what you’d think they’d pay after a spinal cord injury. The little details are issues. Accessories on my chair, like cushions, the armrest and other vital pieces that I need to live comfortably, are not covered by insurance. It’s amazing how many hoops you have to jump through after injury to get support from insurance. We do it so we can have the best quality of life.

There are also other unexpected but related costs. Without my chair, I would be trapped in my room. I’m lost without my phone, and there are great apps and devices on my phone that lets me use it easily. Technology has helped me with my quality of life. I’m able to adjust my house to meet my needs so that I don’t have to rely on my family or caregivers to do everything for me.


What advice would you give to someone who recently sustained a spinal cord injury?


Attitude is half the battle. My attitude kept me focused from the moment I was injured through every physical therapy session. People often cite my positive outlook as something remarkable about me. I always remember that I am alive, healthy and have incredible people around me. Attitude is everything when an injury happens and you need to put things back in perspective again. Even with a spinal cord injury, I have a lot to be thankful for.

Never accept a “satisfying” life. It’s never appropriate to give up even if you are at what you consider the peak of your recovery. I have heard stories of people living with paralysis who have regained movement years after their injury.


What does the word hope mean to you?


Hope to me means having faith that something you want will happen, even when it’s not directly in front of you. Hope gives you a good feeling that can help you to look forward to your future.

Eric LeGrand

Eric, filming his Mission Possible web series, urges, “never accept a satisfying life.”


Eric LeGrand has raised over $750,000 through Team LeGrand to fund spinal cord research and therapies. He recently launched the Mission Possible web series, in which he travels the country to meet with everyday people living with a disability and learn the extraordinary ways they overcome adversity. If you know someone who needs help finding emotional and financial support after a spinal cord injury, contact HelpHOPELive at helphopelive.org today.

How “The Porkanizer” Overcame The Odds To Become A BBQ Legend

Sandy Fulton is not your average event planner. Under the affectionate nickname, “The Porkanizer,” Sandy organizes and grows events with passion and expertise from her lifetime of work in the hospitality industry.

Sandy Fulton Fire Up Hope

Sandy Fulton, center, is “The Porkanizer”

Sandy is a Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) Contest Organizer and a member of the KCBS Board of Directors. She helps organize KSBC-sanctioned competitions including Philly’s Inaugural Fire Up Hope BBQ Festival, an event on September 10- 11, 2016 at the Devon Horse Show Grounds to benefit HelpHOPELive. We picked her brain about her career beginnings, the accident that changed her life and how to plan a successful BBQ fundraiser.

Fire Up Hope BBQ

Sandy is helping to organize the Fire Up Hope BBQ Festival to benefit HelpHOPELive


Sandy, how did you get your start in the hospitality industry?


More than 25 years ago I was a restaurant owner in Ocean City, Maryland, and after that I worked at the Ocean City Convention Center. I really fell in love with promoting and booking conventions and events at the Center. From there, I spent 15 years in the hotel industry in sales working in promotion and training sales departments for hotels all over the country. I was asked to be the executive director of Tourism for Wicomico County, Maryland.

Sandy Fulton Fire Up Hope

“This job was my destiny,” said Sandy

That job was my destiny. I began to use all of my experience in sales, promotions, food and beverage, and marketing to promote our county. I contacted KCBS and held my first BBQ festival in Salisbury, Maryland. in 2002. Within 3 years, the event grew to be the largest of its kind this side of the Mississippi. After I retired in 2012, I was asked to promote another BBQ festival. That grew into managing seven events per year.


You had to retire early due to medical challenges. Was that a difficult time for you?


Yes, probably the most difficult time in my life. I fell and broke my hip and arm. It was assumed that in four to six weeks I could go back to work. After a few weeks, the pain in my hip and leg became worse: my hip was out of socket and my pelvis was broken, seemingly during the initial operation. Four more operations to correct the areas had failed. As soon as I stood, my hip fell out and I would be standing on my ankle.

I was finally put in an ambulance by my doctor and taken into a six-hour operation. I was told I probably would never walk again. I was so distraught.

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Sandy was told by her doctor she would probably never walk again

I spent six weeks in the hospital and six weeks in rehab. I began physical therapy at home and in a nearby facility. I was in a wheelchair, and I was determined not to stay in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. It was obvious by then that I would not be able to return to work. My job was a very active job and with the pain and limitations, I had no choice but to retire. I cried for days. I loved my job so much. I felt that the job was my destiny, and that I had prepared all my life for that job.

I was given a wonderful retirement party with county and state officials in attendance and many awards and recognitions. That made it hurt even more. I was devastated. I decided to concentrate on walking again. I had to. It took me three years, but I was able to walk with a cane. I am grateful to my family, friends, therapy and, of course, God for believing in me.


Can you tell us a little about the KCBS? Why is its approval important?


KCBS is an organization that promotes the love of BBQ. It is the largest organization of its kind, and it is not only based in the United States. It has become a worldwide organization with contests in Europe, Puerto Rico and other regions.

Sandy Fulton Fire Up Hope

KCBS promotes a passion for BBQ through events and engagement

The organization has very strict rules and the judging is done by people who have taken a KCBS Judges class. They judge based on appearance, taste and tenderness.


Why did you decide to specialize in KCBS-sanctioned events?


I made the decision based on my love of creating an event, and the BBQ people that I met and the loyalty they showed me. It is also such a great way to introduce BBQ to new areas.

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Event planning provides an opportunity “to introduce BBQ to new areas”

KCBS really supports nonprofits. 90% of my events are for nonprofits. The competitors love that element and so do those attending. They get to have fun and help a charity at the same time. When holding a fundraiser, advertising that it is for a charitable cause is very important.


How did your first 2002 KCBS-sanctioned event evolve over time?


Initially, we had three months to put it together and 17 competitors. Each year, we added something new to the event to keep people interested. We eventually had to put a limit on the numbers of competitors, food vendors and craft vendors because we were running out of space! We advertised a great deal and that helped. People started planning for the event months in advance. We added a children’s section and that really helped the event, too.

Sandy Fulton Fire Up Hope

Sandy loves to watch her events grow over time


What is your favorite part of your job? Your least favorite?


My favorite part is working with the competitors. They have stood by me and encouraged me when I had to retire. When I held my first festival, I walked into their meeting and they gave me a standing ovation. That’s when I knew that everything was going to be alright.

My least favorite part of my job is after the competition and awards (ceremony) when they all leave me!

Sandy Fulton Fire Up Hope

Sandy’s favorite part of event planning is “working with the competitors”


What does the word HOPE mean to you?


The word hope had a different meaning to me before my accident. We all take for granted being able to walk across a room, drive and do day-to-day activities. So I used to use hope in a simple and kind way, “Hope you have a great day,” “Hope it doesn’t rain today,” or “Hope everyone likes the meal I just prepared.”

When you go through a devastating accident and don’t know what you are going to face in the future, the word hope means something different. When you live with a disability, you look at things differently. When I pulled up to a store, I never used to think about whether or not I could make it to the door. Now I have to look where I am walking, monitor the surface and the people near me. Now I think, I hope I can get to the door, I hope I don’t slip, and, sadly enough, I hope people don’t stare at me and look at me differently than they used to.

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“I hope I can get to the door, I hope I don’t slip, I hope people don’t stare.”

Hope has a new meaning now. I hope I can be the person I used to be and I hope that I do not let a disability stop me from being who I need to be.


Anything else you’d like to share with us?


I am excited to introduce BBQ to Devon! You will see how dedicated people are and how much people love meeting competitors and trying competition BBQ. When a charity like yours is involved, success means even more.


You can learn more about Sandy by contacting her via email. Don’t forget to buy your tickets for the Fire Up Hope BBQ Festival to taste real KCBS-sanctioned BBQ made possible by “the Porkanizer!”

Mobility Matters: The Surprising Benefits Of Good Balance

Balance guru Helena Esmonde is the most senior neurological therapist at Penn Therapy & Fitness in Radnor, Pa. As we explore why mobility matters in honor of Mobility Awareness Month, she explains how balance can significantly influence our quality of life.

Helena Esmonde HelpHOPELive

Senior neuro therapist Helena Esmonde


Tell us about yourself!


I am a senior therapist II, and I participate in mentoring, teaching and research in addition to quality clinical care. As a neurologic and vestibular (inner ear balance) specialist, my focus is to provide individualized rehabilitation using evidence-based practice to ensure the best possible function and quality of life for my patients.


Why is balance important?


Balance is essentially the ability to keep your center of mass over your base of support, which is your two feet. With a working balance system, we can stand safely, react effectively, avoid falling when engaging in a planned movement, and walk and move without stumbling or falling.

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Balance is the ability to keep your center of mass over your two feet

When our balance is impaired, we are more likely to fall and get injured. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Having the best balance possible minimizes the risks for serious and potentially life-altering injuries.


Which conditions can influence our balance?


Our balance can be impaired because of weakness, age, a neurological disease or injury, vision issues or decreased cognition. However, falling should not be seen as a normal part of aging or something that is inevitable. I often tell my patients, “Your auto-pilot for keeping your balance is not as automatic as you get older,” and that’s why patients train with us and learn how to move more safely.

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Falling should not be seen as a “normal” part of aging


How can poor balance affect your mind as well as your body?


There are a few different ways that balance can be emotionally and mentally distressing. When a person’s balance is impaired for any reason, that person lives in constant fear of injury and therefore tends to self-limit their activity. This can mean that they avoid exercise because of a fear of tripping on an uneven patch of sidewalk. That person then loses the mental and emotional benefits of regular exercise as well as the physical benefits.

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Poor balance can invoke a fear of social environments

A person with poor balance often also chooses to avoid positive social experiences due to a fear of falling. For example, someone may not visit a friend because the friend does not have a railing next to their staircase, or they may not attend a party because of the fear of losing balance if someone bumps into them accidentally. Poor balance can lead to social isolation as well as physical deconditioning or disability.


How can physical therapy improve balance?


There are numerous advanced physical therapy techniques for training better balance, some of which are tailored to people with specific conditions. The focus of all such physical therapy is to key in on an individual patient’s goals. I am currently training an individual with MS who wants to be able to walk, dance and move safely at her daughter’s wedding in a month. Like most people with MS, she gets fatigued easily and finds that the fatigue negatively affects her balance. Another patient is trying to progress from using a walker to using a cane safely to free a hand for opening doors, carrying items and shaking someone’s hand in greeting. I try to focus on the goals that will bring quality to each unique person’s situation, whatever it may be.

balance

Could better balance improve your day-to-day interactions?


Can physical therapy be expensive?


Physical therapy is not as expensive as some other options, such as surgery, to correct balance issues. However, if a patient has a major injury or illness (including trauma, a stroke or a spinal cord injury) he or she will likely require therapy and rehabilitation for a longer time, including inpatient rehabilitation and home care, before “graduating” to an outpatient therapy setting. The numbers can add up.

wedding

“It’s hard to put a price on dancing at your daughter’s wedding”

Our main goal is helping patients get back to the highest level of functioning. It’s hard to put a price on dancing at your daughter’s wedding or shaking someone’s hand when you meet them. At Penn Therapy & Fitness, we offer a charitable care program for patients who are unable to afford their outpatient therapy. We also work with patients to help identify other resources that may help them afford care. This is one of the many reasons we appreciate partnerships with such wonderful organizations as HelpHOPELive!


Are there any ways to improve your balance at home?


Exercise is a critical element in decreasing your risk for balance issues and falls, but it’s important to understand what sort of exercise has the greatest benefit. Tai Chi, Pilates and yoga can improve balance, but for those who are not up for that level of challenge, strength in the hip muscles and core strength (belly and back muscle) are the most significant factors.

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Try yoga to improve balance, or work on strengthening your body daily

Lie on your side and lift your top leg up and down. You’ll work important hip muscles that keep your pelvis stable for balance. In addition to exercise, have your vision checked at least yearly. Keep your mind sharp with crossword puzzles or other brain games that benefit your eyes and your brain! Taking action to prevent falls becomes more important as you age. Talk to your doctor and make sure you can keep your balance everywhere you want to go!


Need help covering the cost of rehabilitation to maintain your quality of life after a catastrophic injury or illness? Visit helphopelive.org to start a fundraising campaign with our nonprofit.

Ask A Professional: How To Prepare For A Kidney Transplant

There are more than 100,000 people waiting for kidney transplants in the United States. Over 3,000 new people are added to the kidney waiting list each month on average. We spoke with Kelli Collins, Senior Director of Patient Services for the National Kidney Foundation, to find out how transplant candidates can get a better understanding of their condition and the costs associated with transplantation.

National Kidney Foundation logo


Can waiting for a transplant take a toll?


Waiting for or receiving a transplant can be difficult emotionally. The transplant evaluation is extensive and requires multiple appointments and follow-ups. Some tests need to be redone each year to keep information up to date. The waiting list can be long: in the U.S., you could wait for a kidney for between three to seven years or longer depending on your age, blood type and other factors. Living donation can also be emotionally charged, especially if people expected to offer their kidney do not, or those who offer turn out not to be a good match.

waiting

Waiting for a transplant can take an emotional toll.


What are some things you can do to prepare for a transplant?


Make sure that you take good care of yourself and follow the care plan you create with your health care practitioner while you wait for a transplant. Following a kidney-friendly diet, maintaining a healthy weight, taking your medications and attending medical appointments as required are vital parts of staying healthy while waiting for a transplant. It’s also important to plan ahead for potential financial burdens post-transplant.

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Follow care advice, including maintaining a kidney-friendly diet


What’s the best way to help someone who is listed for a kidney transplant?


Most people are not familiar with the effects of kidney disease and what dialysis or a transplant entails. Talk with your friends or family members about how they are feeling and ask them how you can help support them. Often just having someone acknowledge and listen to their feelings or concerns is helpful.

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Acknowledge your loved one’s thoughts and concerns

Kidney failure affects the entire family, so relationships may become strained as everyone tries to cope and support the patient. Talk to each other and seek professional support as needed. If you are facing kidney failure or preparing for a transplant, remember that you are not alone. There are many resources that can support you along the way. Understanding the process and being prepared will make you feel more confident in managing your condition.


What are some of the most common transplant-related questions you receive through the NKF Cares Helpline?


NKF Cares most often receives questions from patients and family members looking for guidance on how to get on the transplant list or for general information about what the transplant evaluation and surgery entails. Additionally, we receive calls from people seeking financial assistance resources either to help with the costs related to transplant surgery or for helping to cover medications after transplant. We also receive calls from people interested in living donation or patients interested in materials on living donation to share with their friends and family.

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The NKF Cares Helpline offers transplant general info, guidance and support


What is the most common transplant misconception you have heard?


The most common myth is that a transplant is a cure for kidney disease. This is not the case; a transplant is a treatment option. It is often viewed as an ideal option because a successful transplant allows patients to return to living close-to-normal lives. But after receiving a transplant, patients need to be vigilant about taking their prescribed medications daily to keep their body from rejecting the transplanted kidney. Patients must follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly and follow up with their care team to monitor kidney function and overall health.

kidney transplant quote HelpHOPELive


What transplant-related expenses do candidates need to prepare for?


The expenses you incur depend on the type of insurance coverage you have. If you have Medicare due to kidney failure, this coverage will end three years after your transplant. Additionally, Medicare only covers 80 percent of the cost of immunosuppressant medications. These medications can be very expensive. Co-pays are usually a set fee for each prescription. Co-insurance is a percentage of the total cost of the medication; for example, you may be responsible for 20 percent ($2) of a $10 medication. But for a medication that costs $10,000 per month, you would be responsible for $2,000.

www.SeniorLiving.Org

Talk to your team about financially preparing for a transplant.

It can be difficult to completely anticipate all costs associated with transplant, so talk with your transplant team about what to expect so you can plan accordingly. We offer resources and tools to help you consider costs, plan for those expenses and learn more about common insurance terminology.


The NKF Cares Helpline offers support for all people affected by kidney disease, organ donation or transplantation. It’s designed especially for patients, family members and care partners. Trained specialists will discuss your concerns and send free information to help you learn more they are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

Finding Joy After Injury: 11 Quotes From Dan Gottlieb

Here are 11 powerful quotes from Dr. Dan Gottlieb on love, loss and recovery after a spinal cord injury. Dr. Gottlieb became paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident in 1979. Having survived years of struggle and personal loss, today, Dr. Gottlieb maintains a private psychology practice, lectures and trains health care professionals, and hosts WHYY Philadelphia’s Voices in the Family broadcast.

Dr. Dan Gottlieb, Voices in the Family, NPR, WHYY

All content provided courtesy of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation via the Foundation-hosted webinar “Dr. Dan on Finding Joy,” August 5, 2015.


On Redefining Joy After Injury:

The definition of joy can change based on an individual’s abilities and circumstances. With a broken neck, I could no longer be the person I thought I should be or the person I would have been or wanted to be. I had no choice but to be the person I am today. When you give up the battle to be someone or something else, you start to look at the world differently. You can lower the bar to what gives you joy; you lower that bar low enough and pure joy is easy to find.

meditation

Take time to appreciate small blessings.

When you’re no longer pursuing an artificial definition of happiness, all of a sudden, the air smells cleaner. At this moment, perhaps you can breathe without coughing. Joy is right there, in that moment.


On Finding Joy By Helping Others:

Joy happens most often when we’re not thinking about ourselves. We are hardwired to help each other. That’s why when someone suffers or is crying, our hearts open. When you want joy and want to feel good, help another feel good, whether that being is a child, an adult, or an animal. The act of expressing care and compassion brings joy. If you don’t feel it, help someone else feel it, and then you will feel it yourself.

caring for child

Caring for others can help you feel joyful again.


On Finding Joy Through Gratitude:

I find joy whenever I: realize that this day is precious; appreciate the fragility of life, knowing deep down that this might be our last day, our last year or our last summer.

sunrise

Viewing life as precious can improve your outlook.


On Accepting Love:

Fear and resentment interfere with our ability to experience love. Let love contribute to the healing in [your] heart. Love is the only vehicle that can help us find peace. On my deathbed, I want to be surrounded with love and be able to love until my last minute. I want to feel that love until my last breath.

afraid girl

Fear can make it difficult for us to accept love.

The most difficult and the most generous part of love comes when someone you love suffers. Be with them. When I find myself in a deep, dark place, I want to be with someone who loves me enough to sit there with me, not a cheerleader to tell me there’s light at the other end. Sit with me in my helplessness and then I will feel your love.


On Overcoming Judgment From Others:

Too many of us see ourselves based on our wheelchairs. We have to see ourselves as complete people. All of us have been [judged] based on the color of our skin, or what we believe, or where we pray, or what we’ve done. Very few people are able to look into our eyes and see our heart and soul. Make a heartfelt commitment to never place that kind of judgment on someone else. When you encounter another, look into their eyes, acknowledge their humanity. That alone will make you feel better.

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When you meet someone, look in their eyes and acknowledge them.


On Discovering Self-Love:

There’s an old Sufi saying: ‘When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found.’ Put your hand over your heart and see if you can find kindness, compassion and even love for this [person] whose life has been torn apart.

mirror reflection

Can you find love for the person you see in the mirror?

No one is going to understand your suffering as well as you do. Take a half hour a day to connect with [yourself].


On Pushing Through Pain:

Pain is a demanding companion. You try to look outside, and the pain says, NO – you’re paying attention to ME. If we can sit with that pain and have a heartfelt wish for compassion and kindness for everybody in the world who feels more pain than we do in that moment, it helps us get out of our heads. It changes the story, and that is everything.

ocean gray cloudy gaze

Send out a wish for compassion to combat your pain.


On Humor:

If I were asked to consult on the second edition of the Ten Commandments, one of my commandments would be, ‘Thou shalt not take thyself too seriously.’

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“Thou shalt not take thyself too seriously.”


Want to share your favorite quotes about disability or injury? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or on Twitter.

7 Myths About Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Families coping with a spinal cord injury have so many factors to consider, from immediate medical support to long-term care and financial planning. In the final installment of our series, Amy Bratta gives us 7 common misconceptions about spinal cord injury rehabilitation.

wheelchair art design mobility disability


Myth 1: Cost isn’t a factor after a spinal cord injury.


In most cases, injured individuals will need wheelchairs, lift systems, ramps and bathroom equipment before continuing to recover at home – and those are just the basics. Access to these resources is significantly impacted by insurance and a patient’s individual financial circumstances.


Myth 2: Young adults find it easier to deal with spinal cord injuries.


When it comes to spinal cord injuries, every individual is unique. Rehabilitation depends on social support, how the injury happened and a host of other variables. Age is not necessarily the leading factor that differentiates one patient’s experience following a spinal cord injury from another’s.

At Magee, we try to meet young adults where they are in terms of coping with their injury. We hold adolescent or young adult support groups. We’ve developed a young adult suite with tutoring, computer access, gaming, large-screen TVs and other comforts that provides a space where recovering young adults can spend their time. Specialty age-related counselors and coordinators are on staff to help adolescents return to school and work, or to pursue educational opportunities once back in the community or online.


Myth 3: Spinal cord injury rehabilitation ends once you leave the hospital.


When a person is admitted to inpatient rehabilitation, he or she is evaluated by a team of clinicians. Together, the person and team set goals and a plan to reach the goals. These goals stretch well beyond the initial inpatient hospitalization. We help patients and families create a therapy plan for what they can do now, with the movement they have, but we also help them to develop a long-term plan of care for when they leave the inpatient rehab environment. The end of inpatient therapy is not the end of spinal cord injury recovery! People can continue to participate in therapy at home or in outpatient depending on the circumstances.


Myth 4: Spinal cord injuries stay the same throughout an individual’s lifetime.


As an individual with a SCI ages, he or she will face new and different challenges or complications. In addition to the normal effects of aging that we all face, SCI-related complications may present themselves years after the injury itself. You may gain weight, increase or decrease your level of strength, or experience changes in your skin’s strength. Sometimes, these factors can be managed or minimized with foresight. But in other cases, internal developments may be out of your control. That’s why it’s essential to have a knowledgeable and dependable team to supervise your long-term health and rehabilitation.


Myth 5: Families can’t do much to support spinal cord injury rehabilitation.


Social support is a critical component. Our multidisciplinary team members are part of that support system. We encourage families to be actively involved in their loved one’s inpatient hospital stay as soon and as often as they can, as they will play a critical role in supporting the next phases of rehabilitation once their loved one is back in the community and out of the hospital.


Myth 6: Physical therapists can easily predict how each patient will progress.


I wish we had a crystal ball and could predict the future. We try to help patients understand what we see as their current potential and what we know might be possible based on the level of their injury. There is always room for hope. With spinal cord injuries, it’s never black and white. We tell patients, this is what we can see and anticipate right now. If those circumstances change, it’s time to reevaluate.


Myth 7: A positive attitude has little influence on how patients deal with rehabilitation.


A positive attitude makes a significant difference in helping someone to achieve the highest level of independence possible. This may sometimes mean a full recovery of physical function; other times it may mean using technology and equipment to lead an active and independent lifestyle. Mental toughness and motivation are keys to success in both of these scenarios.


Our myth buster is Amy Bratta, the spinal cord injury Therapy Manager at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia.