Tag Archives: spinal injury

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.

eyes

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.’

laugh

“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.

Meet Help Award Honoree Team Libby Judge

Each year at HelpHOPELive’s annual signature fundraising event, HelpHOPE-Live It Up!, we honor community heroes who prove why our mission matters with the Help, HOPE and Live awards. In 2015, we’re also giving out an Advocacy and Volunteer of the Year award.

This year, the Help award will go to Team Libby Judge for excellence in fundraising.

On March 15, 2014, Libby Judge, a West Chester, Pennsylvania mother and grandmother, was in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down. After the injury, Libby’s family learned they would face medical and related expenses estimated to cost between $500,000 and $3 million throughout Libby’s lifetime. Libby and her family faced an immense burden emotionally, physically and financially. Fortunately, their community stepped up to meet that burden with unyielding love and powerful fundraising assistance.

Libby Judge family HelpHOPELive

Libby Judge (center) pre-injury with her family.

Friends and community members who had played tennis and golf with Libby volunteered to serve as team members of a fundraising campaign in her honor. Coordinating with HelpHOPELive, “Team Libby Judge” quickly drafted an appeal letter to the community at large to jumpstart fundraising efforts on her behalf, and managed to secure an initial donation within the first 24 hours — and the outpouring of support continued from there and hasn’t faltered.

Team Libby Judge

Team Libby Judge members Chuck Walsh and Laura and Joe Santoleri.

Team Libby Judge planned to hold the first major fundraising event in Libby’s honor at a favorite local pub, featuring food and drinks, a silent auction, multiple raffles and a live musical performance. Team members created an event flyer, auction item solicitation letter and online event registration page with support from HelpHOPELive.

Libby Judge bracelet HelpHOPELive

Team Libby Judge devoted themselves to supporting Libby through fundraising.

The members of Team Libby Judge truly committed themselves to fundraising, explained HelpHOPELive Fundraising Coordinator Joni Henderson: “It was their early morning job. For at least an hour and a half each morning and throughout the afternoon, these families did everything they could to ensure the fundraiser would be a success.” And it was.

On June 6, 2014, over 600 members of the local community gathered to show their support. The event exceeded expectations, raising more money than the organizers had hoped for. Instead of resting on the success of that first fundraising effort, Team Libby Judge continued having regular meetings to make plans for additional fundraisers, including tennis tournaments, a jewelry open house and a percentage of sales night held during a popular annual holiday shopping event in Libby’s area.

Libby Judge Live It Up event HelpHOPELive

Team Libby Judge coordinated auction items for the first fundraising event in her honor.

Libby Judge Live It Up event HelpHOPELive 2

A collage at the first annual fundraiser recognizes Libby’s life and loved ones.

In addition to contributing their time and energy to event planning, family and friends also helped with a house renovation project that added an accessible addition to Libby’s home. “Team Libby Judge went above and beyond,” said Joni Henderson. “No one understood the magnitude of their reach in the community until these events began to come together. They changed Libby’s life with their actions.”

Libby Judge spinal cord injury fundraising HelpHOPELive home renovations

Team Libby Judge helped renovate Libby’s home to improve accessibility.

Over a year post-accident, thanks to the groundwork established by Team Libby Judge, family and friends continue to come out in droves to show their love and support for Libby and her family as they heal from her 2014 spinal cord injury.

Libby Judge

Libby and her family continue to heal with support from Team Libby Judge.

On October 16, 2015, HelpHOPELive will recognize Team Libby Judge with the Help award for excellence in fundraising. We thank these special individuals for their time, energy and compassion.

help-hope-live-it-upThe Help award will be presented to Team Libby Judge at this year’s HelpHOPE-Live it Up! benefit on October 16.

Making Connections After A Spinal Cord Injury Can Change Your Life

At age 13, a spinal cord injury changed Reveca Torres’s life. She began working with HelpHOPELive to fundraise for injury-related expenses in 2008. Now the executive director of the spinal cord injury support community BACKBONES, Reveca devotes her time to helping others discover vital SCI resources and find joy and connection after injury. Here are her insights on connecting with others, fighting stigmas and learning to embrace your new life.


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Do spinal cord injuries create both physical and emotional challenges?


Definitely. Physically, your body is entirely different post-injury. You have to re-learn what your body can do. All of your internal systems are affected, from bowels and bladder to body temperature and your sense of touch. Everything is so different. It takes years to be self-aware and understand the new feelings, signals and reactions in your body.

Initially, I thought of my body as broken. Now I know that my body is still alive. It’s still working. I won’t ignore it. You have to learn to stay healthy or you risk being stuck in bed healing from issues and other injuries.


What can you learn through connecting with peers?


I think it’s really important to get to know other people with spinal cord injuries so you can begin to understand how they handle their daily lives. Connection is a great way to learn from others and discover some self-acceptance, too. Getting comfortable with your situation is one of the biggest hurdles when you are first injured. You need to see that others in your situation are making it work.

connect with others chat coffee shop work

Connect with others with SCI and learn how they make it work.

Knowing that someone else understands exactly what you’re going through is powerful. It’s wonderful to not have to explain yourself or what you’re feeling. You can talk, ask questions and learn from each other. There’s a lot of relief knowing that someone else knows what it’s like to be you. I hear that when I talk to people on the phone: the conversation starts with a lot of questions, nerves and anticipation. By the end of the call, there’s a sound of relief in the caller’s voice.


What helped you to make a breakthrough after injury?


I didn’t have a lot of friends with injuries after I was injured at 13. I had to learn how to conquer a lot of physical challenges on my own. Acceptance was a big part of that – I was coping with SCI AND being a teen! At college, I met other people with injuries who were playing sports, dating and traveling. That community gave me the confidence to try new things.

moving airplane sky clouds skyscraper city

Moving away from home helped Reveca find her independence.

I had a lot of support from family and friends and they were behind me all the way after I was injured, but ultimately they couldn’t show me how to build a life for myself. I had to see other people make it happen to get there myself. Moving away from home made a big difference for me. Going away to college was intimidating, but when I got there, other people would approach me and start conversations and we’d become friends. Give yourself those opportunities, whether that means putting yourself out there or moving to an area that gives you access to a stronger SCI community.


Is it tough to make connections if you are nervous or naturally shy?


It is always intimidating at first to connect with others or ask questions. Those physical and emotional challenges after injury can make you feel like you need someone else to advocate for you. Someone close to me gave me a really good piece of advice: become your own advocate. Family members provide as much as they can for someone they love and they want you to get better and get to a good emotional place, but that support can hinder your growth.


Do you have to embrace the “disabled” label to be a part of the SCI community?


Initially, I didn’t want to hang out with other people who used wheelchairs. I didn’t want to identify as “disabled” – I wanted to believe I was still the same person. I was the same person in some ways, but I was also very different after injury, and I had to learn to embrace that. Being part of the disability community doesn’t stop you from participating in the able-bodied world. You can have both!

friends blonde brunette red lipstick grass hair

“There shouldn’t be a line between ‘us’ and ‘them.'”

Being injured is not something any of us asked for or want to be a part of, but the SCI community is a great group of people. We have all gone through something life-changing and we have learned how to adapt. These communities are essential not just for people who are injured but for their friends and family members as well. Our events are open to people with and without disabilities. There shouldn’t be a line between “us” and “them.” We are all human, and we can all relate to one another on different levels.


 

BACKBONES splash wheelchair beach disability spinal cord injury Reveca Torres


To connect with other people with spinal cord injuries, visit BACKBONES online. If you need help covering uninsured injury-related expenses, reach out to us.

Motivated By Love, One Family Launched The ‘Project’ Of A Lifetime

Paul Pickard founded Project Walk Atlanta in 2011 with his wife, Jeannie, and his son, Chris, who was paralyzed in a car accident when he was 18 years old. We asked Paul about spinal cord injury rehabilitation and his motivation for opening Project Walk Atlanta.

Project Walk Atlanta staff


What did you know about Project Walk when you founded Project Walk Atlanta?


Other than knowing that God placed it on our heart to build the facility in Atlanta, I really didn’t know that much about the PW network. When we founded our center, there was no research or due diligence before building. As crazy as it sounds, in the middle of a recession, we built PWA solely on faith, without a business plan.

What I know today about the four Project Walk centers — located in Orlando, Kansas City, Dallas and Austin — is that they are all very passionate about helping people with spinal cord injuries. These centers opened because there was a serious need in their community and their lives. Each center is filled with love and compassion for its clients.


Can services like the ones offered at Project Walk Atlanta significantly improve quality of life for people who have spinal cord injuries?


All human bodies require movement and some level of exercise. At a bare minimum, people with spinal cord injuries learn how to get their body moving to connect with their paralyzed limbs. Daily quality of life factors such as eating, scratching an itch, brushing teeth, etc. are addressed with our services by training the neuromuscular system.

Project Walk Sarah


What are some examples of modern spinal cord injury therapy equipment or technology used at Project Walk Atlanta?


We are fortunate to carry the entire suite of Restorative Therapy Functional Electrical Stimulation machines: RT600, RT300 and RT200. FES coordinates neuromuscular re- education by firing respective muscles in the same order as when a person moves. Some other exciting pieces of equipment:

-The locomotor treadmill is an innovative intervention that helps individuals with gait impairments. The technique is an activity-based therapy that works to retrain the spinal cord to “remember” the pattern of walking again.

Vibration platform training excites additional muscle fibers to become engaged, improves bone density, and increases circulation and aerobic capacity.

Tissue regenerative technology uses shock wave energy for tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue around the injury point and activating the autonomic nervous system.

The Bioness H200 is electrical stimulation prosthetic for the hands.

Project Walk Nick


Which innovations or technological advances are you most excited about for the future?


Dr. Scott Bertrand’s core development and training devices are promising. Currently in use at his office in Georgia, this device uses rotational mechanics of an isolated muscle contraction on each side of your core to fully engage activity. Other devices that are promising involve body weight-supported gait training which measures speed, stride length, stride width, tempo and weight-bearing percentage to drive performance improvements. And, finally, a new device being made for clinical use is exciting: an EMG portable unit that will measure exact muscle activity, providing the user and the clinician the ability to discern appropriate techniques leading to neuromuscular activity below the level of injury for our clients.


Did your son’s injury influence your outlook on spinal cord damage, therapy, or life in general?


I find myself not complaining as much anymore because I really, really hate this injury with a passion. In a flash of a second, your entire life changes forever. It doesn’t creep up on you; it just annihilates your world.

Chris Pickard Jeanie Pickard Paul Pickard Project Walk Atlanta Georgia


Does Chris continue to make progress with his own rehabilitation journey?


Rehabilitation takes form in several ways. It is not only physical; it is also spiritual and mental. Chris has made great strides in all three.


What keeps your family moving forward?


FAITH, without a doubt. The strength that our faith in Jesus Christ has given us is the glue that has held us together. There were many nights spent crying, asking God for answers and even getting angry with God. We will never understand nor should we expect to. Without faith and prayer, this injury could become overwhelming at times.


Does your family’s personal experience give you unique insights to share with other families who come to Project Walk Atlanta?


You learn very quickly how to adapt to this injury. At Project Walk Atlanta, every client becomes part of a bigger family that shares and loves one another. We are there to pray with you or cry — whichever!

Project Walk Joe


Is cost a significant barrier to SCI rehabilitation for some families?


Cost is the biggest barrier. If you have a premium insurance policy, you might get reimbursed 75%. Otherwise, you have to rely on fundraising. Although we try to provide scholarships when we can, it is very important that we teach our clients how to fundraise. The average person has never asked for money or knows how. Although there are many online fundraising sites, I always point them to HelpHOPELive where they will get the best guidance to raise funds.


Based on your son Chris’s fundraising efforts with HelpHOPELive, what are some of the costs that SCI-affected families can expect to face 3 to 5 years after injury?


Medical supplies, housing adaptation, standing frames, FES bikes and vehicle modification are a few expenses that can be anticipated


What piece(s) of advice would you offer to someone who was recently injured? What would you tell his or her family?


The advice that I would give someone is to begin fundraising early. This injury is so devastating on families financially that most families can end up in bankruptcy. Everything is so expensive and most insurance will not pay for long-term therapy. Medicaid pays for catheters but won’t pay for suppositories. Go figure!


The PWA website notes: “Everyone needs hope. Without hope you can’t recover.” Do you think that hope or a positive attitude can alter the rehabilitation process?


Absolutely. Without hope, what do you have? Every person affected by spinal cord injury has or once had hope that he or she would recover. Unfortunately, most acute hospitals’ doctors knock the wind from your sail by making statements like “you will not ever walk again” or “get used to the wheelchair.” At the end of the day, only God knows what anyone’s outcome really is.

I know many people that were told they would never walk and now they are beginning to take their first steps, crawl or even walk again. It is that hope and the belief in themselves that helped them get to that point.

Project Walk equipment


Connect with Project Walk Atlanta on Facebook to learn more about spinal cord injury rehabilitation. You can follow Chris Pickard’s journey on his Campaign Page.

 

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.

Meet ‘The Most Accessible CEO In America’

Americans who use wheelchairs spend billions annually on travel and entertainment. Are American restaurants, hotels and hotspots prioritizing accessibility? Brett Heising, the founder and CEO of the accessibility review site brettapproved, Inc., shares his perspective.

Brett Heising founder CEO brettapproved disability accessibility review


What is brettapproved all about?


Our platform offers user-submitted accessibility reviews for restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues across America. Brettapproved allows people of all ages who use wheelchairs to mindfully plan out their next excursion, whether they’re heading to a neighboring town on a Saturday night or across the country to visit family.


Are American hotspots making an effort to improve accessibility?


For the vast majority of the establishment owners I speak to, their hearts are in the right place. They are in hospitality, so they really have an inherent dedication to customer service. Every property has elements that need to be overcome or altered, but owners can do a lot: little things, like reconsidering furniture placement in a hotel room or extending the width between tables in a restaurant, go a long way toward improving accessibility for people in chairs.

People in wheelchairs are just like everyone else – we just sit down more. We have the same hopes, dreams and aspirations. When the stigma surrounding us disappears, anything is possible. Attitude is everything, for travelers who use wheelchairs and for business owners.


Do you ever receive negative reactions to your visits?


It all boils down to one word: responsibility. Often, when I talk to a hotelier or restauranteur, I am able to show them a brand new context and a new perspective on accessibility. I’ll say to them, “I’m glad you have never had to think about these challenges before. But now that we’ve met, you have a responsibility to do your best.”

No one wakes up and wants to treat a group of people disrespectfully. They just don’t know that it’s a problem until we show them. Once you know, you have to do the best you can to fix it.


How has the public responded to brettapproved so far?


There are so many people who have reached out to me via email supporting the platform! I remember one conversation with a woman named Cathy, whose daughter, Maria, is disabled due to hydrocephalus. Maria is just the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever seen – there is life and light in her eyes. Cathy told me how much she and her family depend on brettapproved and use the site not just to read reviews but to write reviews together when they visit new hotspots. They are not only using the platform for their own purposes but using it to contribute to greater advocacy and support for the entire network.

It’s amazing to see people gravitate towards the brettapproved online community. As human beings, we want to give of ourselves, regardless of our ability level. That’s a fact that drives me and so many others. It’s a powerful aspect of brettapproved, and we will never lose sight of it.

Brett Heising CEO founder brettapproved


Can individuals who do not use wheelchairs still be a part of your mission?


If you are someone who doesn’t have a friend or a loved one who relies on a wheelchair, that’s a blessing. As an able-bodied person, you can still support brettapproved, and we highly encourage it. Maybe you don’t need a room with a rolling shower, but if you find yourself in an accessible room the next time you visit a hotel, take pictures of the room, add the room number and property name and post it on brettapproved.com. The more we share the better the site will be! You can reach out to us to learn more about becoming a certified reviewer. I love seeing individuals with all different ability levels come together to support this cause.


Should people who use wheelchairs just stay home to avoid complications with accessibility?


Absolutely not. Your body is just a cradle for your mind. Being nervous or anxious can definitely be a barrier to travel, but there is no ‘reset’ button. This life is the only one we get, so make the most of it! Resources like brettapproved can help you to plan appropriately so that natural anxiety does not overwhelm you or ruin your trip.

My goal is to be the most accessible CEO in America. If you’re nervous about travel, give me a call or shoot me an email. It’s always possible to work through anxiety and travel confidently.

Ultimately, just because a specific location receives a low rating on brettapproved does not mean that people who use wheelchairs should avoid those locations. It just means that if you go, you should be prepared for an adventure.

What I’ve realized over time is that when people extend themselves to you and tell you they can help you, on some level, the person who is offering you help feels rejected if you decline that assistance. It’s actually mutually beneficial for you to accept help when it’s presented to you. Say yes! Thank people sincerely for being part of the process!


What sort of expenses will people who use wheelchairs have to cover to travel comfortably?


Most people with a permanent physical disability do not earn the same as their able-bodied counterparts. To add to that injustice, people with wheelchairs inevitably have higher expenses to maintain quality of life. A wheelchair cushion alone can cost hundreds of dollars. Wheelchair tires or tubes can run $100 or more per component.

I think it’s important to realize that just like everybody else, people with disabilities run the socioeconomic strata. We strive to showcase upper-crust hotels but also budget-friendly hotels and restaurants. Find places that work for you, based on your budget and your needs.


What should someone do if they encounter resistance or hostility from staff at a particular establishment?


Let me tell you what I do myself. Instead of getting heated, I roll back for a second, and take 30 seconds, two minutes or whatever it takes to cool off a little. Then, I reapproach the situation calmly and gently lay out for the staff member who I am and what my needs are. I ask the staff member, “How can we work together? What can I do as a consumer to help you help me?” My final approach is to look the individual right in the eyes and ask, “Can I count on you to help me?”

There is a part inside of each and every one of us that is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that someone else is satisfied not only as a consumer but as a human being. We need to take responsibility for our lives and not just ask hoteliers and restauranteurs to take the next step. It’s not all about what the world can do for us. I’m an individual in a chair, but I don’t approach the world saying, you owe me this. The world owes us nothing, but it will give us everything if we take responsibility for our actions and put ourselves in position to be successful.


Where do you see brettapproved going within the next decade?


A prudent saying comes to mind: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!” Everything I do and have done in my life I have done with a singular focus on growth and success. Within the next decade, we should have millions of brettapproved users who rely on our platform to connect with family and friends, plan business trips and experience the rich life they deserve. We are also envisioning a boutique hotel chain that would be 100% wheelchair accessible – wouldn’t that be something? Instead of planning to stay in one of three or four accessible rooms in a particular hotel, you could have your pick of the entire building.

Word-of-mouth awareness and digital outreach is a major part of our short-term development strategy. I think major hotel chains need to know who we are and what we do. It serves our company no purpose to slam anybody and it’s counterproductive. I want every restauranteur and hotelier to be an ally and to view brettapproved as a resource. I also want anyone with a physical disability or mobility challenge to use the site. After all, the platform is for all of us! So please sign up for an account today.

brettapproved disability review Brett Heising wheelchair


Learn more about brettapproved online and on Facebook. Thanks for your insights, Brett!

An Inside Look At Spinal Cord Injury Physical Therapy

About 12,500 people will experience a spinal cord injury this year. How will physical therapy impact their lives? Amy Bratta, the spinal cord injury therapy manager at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, answers our questions about SCI rehabilitation.

Amy Bratta Magee spinal cord injury physical therapy sci rehabilitation philly philadelphia


What sort of social support is provided to individuals who pursue inpatient physical therapy?

Here at Magee Rehabilitation, we collaborate on a multidisciplinary team that includes clinical neuropsychologists and an extensive peer support program for patients and families with individual and group options.


What technologies are available to promote independence for people with spinal cord injuries?

We try to give people opportunities to try equipment that will enable them to be more independent in their homes and communities. We have an amazing “Smartroom” that shows some of this new technology. Identifying the best technology tools to promote independence depends on understanding an individual’s mobility level and the funding that he or she has access to in order to continue using the tools at home.

HelpHOPELive: We’ll be taking a closer look at some of these cutting-edge modalities in a future Blog post. Stay tuned!


Which spinal cord injury support initiatives are you most excited about?

We’ve started a pilot SCI “medical home” program for injured individuals. There are similar models for people with chronic diseases, but very few available for people with spinal cord injuries. It’s an attempt to follow people closely after they leave inpatient rehabilitation and transition back to the community. The medical home multidisciplinary team provides proactive support and services to minimize medical complications and promote optimal health after a spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injury therapy is a fast-moving space in which professionals try to seek answers and tailor technological developments to individual needs. Stem cell research and other medical developments continue to give people hope that in the future we will have more answers than we have now.

Amy Bratta treadmill physical therapy sci spinal cord injury PT Magee Rehabilitation Philly Philadelphia


What is essential to success as a spinal cord injury physical therapist?

Collaboration is essential. We work closely on a multidisciplinary team to provide well-informed and complete support. We typically look for new team members who are self-motivated, willing to learn and invested in teamwork. There is a physical component to our work, but it is also very emotional. Working with individuals and their families after a traumatic injury can be an intense and rewarding experience.


What have you learned from the injured individuals you’ve worked with?

With each person that I’ve worked with, what stands out to me is the strength of the human spirit. A person going through trauma can and will deal with the outcome and move forward to the best of his or her ability. That applies to social and emotional transitioning as well as physical rehabilitation. Sometimes I truly feel that I’ve learned more from some of our patients than they have learned from me!

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When Penn State quarterback Adam Taliaferro was injured in 2000, he had surgery, followed by 7 months of in- and outpatient services at Magee. What was it like working with Adam?

Adam is an extraordinary young man who came in with very little active movement initially. He was always very present, highly motivated, mentally tough and positive, and he carried that attitude not only into his own care and therapy but into the lives of others who were struggling with similar injuries. That’s the beauty of being here: people going through similar experiences can be there for each other. Adam is an exceptional example of giving back while pursuing personal rehabilitation.


What’s your favorite part of your job?

I like that my job is very dynamic. Every day is a little bit different. You have to adapt, even if you think you have a plan! I meet some incredible people. You walk in the door and see what other people are dealing with, and suddenly your problems or issues seem completely insignificant by comparison.

My work inspires me and gives me perspective. I appreciate the opportunity to serve people who have been through trauma and injury. Every day when I come to work, I feel like I still have a role in helping people to receive the best care they possibly can. It can be a very emotional job – but for us, working in this field means entering a very special place where we can make a significant and lasting impact on an individual’s life.

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We appreciate your time, Amy! Visit the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital website to learn more about Amy Bratta’s work.