The Benefits of Friendship

We asked several members of the ATBF Community what their advice would be on adapting to a new lifestyle after a spinal cord injury.

The Importance of Support From Family, Friends, Medical and Rehabilitative Professionals
By: Dr. Adam Stein, Member of ATBF’s Medical Advisory Board

1. Most people who sustain spinal cord injury achieve successful adjustment and ultimately rate their quality of life as high.

2. The importance of support from family and friends is critical for a successful adjustment to spinal cord injury.

3. Seek medical and rehabilitative care from professionals with experience in spinal cord injury.

Adam B. Stein, M.D., is a member of the ATBF Medical Advisory Board and Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for The Hofstra North Shore-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine and The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. 

The Power of Flexibility, Positivity and Evolution
By: Emma Verrill, Part-Time Teacher & Graduate Student

I would say flexibility, positivity and “evolution” – meaning things will change – sometimes for the better sometimes for the worse. Being flexible is important because maintaining a positive attitude is hard, and will be harder if you don’t learn how to roll with the punches. I’m not saying don’t let things slide, being an advocate for yourself and others is critical, but learn to pick your battles! Frustration for the injured and the family/friends/caretakers goes both ways – allow there to be room and a healthy outlet for you to express your frustration. Don’t forget to communicate with each other!

Emma Verrill, originally from Yarmouth, ME, is working on her Master’s in Education at Texas State University in Austin, Texas. Emma has a T6 incomplete spinal cord injury. She is also currently teaching part-time and loves how accessible Austin, TX is.

The Significance of Meeting Others in Similar Situations
By: Alex Elegudin, Friend of ATBF and Co-Founder of Wheeling Forward 

Meet, discuss and visit with people in similar situations. It is helpful to learn from their experience. Also, do your research. Take things slowly and keep in mind that you need to learn how to adapt your whole spectrum, not just one or two things.

Alex Elegudin has lived with a spinal cord injury since 2003 due to a motor vehicle accident. He has worked relentlessly to make his life meaningful again, and to help others do the same. After becoming disabled, Alex graduated from Hofstra University School of Law and is currently a successful patent attorney as well as Co-Founder of Wheeling Forward. 
Families: Have Patience And Work As A Team
By: Maria Uribe, Daughter of Juan Uribe

I think the two most important things for families to remember are to have patience and to work as a team. Everyone’s life is affected when one has a spinal cord injury, from the injured to the spouse to the children. We all have to remember that each one of us is affected differently but with patience and teamwork (plus a lot of understanding) you can all get through it together.

Maria Uribe is an active volunteer and supporter of the Alan T Brown Foundation. In July 1995, Maria’s father, Jose, sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of an automobile accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.