I am a new paraplegic writing this note to express my appreciation to staff and volunteers of the Ottawa office at Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) for the valuable moral, educational and material support they have provided my wife and me since I fell out of a tree in my backyard in October of 2018, sustaining a T11 spinal fracture that left me paraplegic and requiring the use of a wheelchair. The recovery process began with more than two months in residence at the Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre, which introduced me to the basic physical skills necessary to live with my new disability, but Rehab was only able to scratch the surface of the vast range of knowledge and abilities needed to resume an active life in the community. The Ottawa office of SCIO has filled that gap, in so many ways.
I learned about SCIO while still resident at the Rehab Centre and reached out to find out what they were about. Within a couple of days Chris, a Regional Services Co-ordinator in Ottawa came to the Centre to meet me and talk about my needs. When Chris learned I needed two stair lifts to for my two-storey home he was able to tap into SCIO’s impressive network to link me up with someone who was looking to find a home for a used stair lift that was no longer required. It was a perfect fit and saved my wife and me a lot of time and money.
SCIO also has an inventory of donated goods, which Chris drew on to provide me with a shower bench I needed to move home. He also advised me on types of wheelchair to look at, and tapped into that great SCIO network to find a used wheelchair for sale that is just perfect for use on the second storey of my home. Chairlift, bath bench, wheelchair; three items without which I could not have moved home when I did and all of which we got through SCIO.
SCIO has also greatly facilitated my discovery of wheelchair recreation. In collaboration with the Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre they organized an exposition entitled ‘Join the Movement’ that pulled together a number of organizations helping wheelchair users discover the various recreational opportunities available to them. In February SCIO organized a day in collaboration with Canadian Adaptive Snow Sports (CADS) to introduce new SCIO members to sit-skiing. In June I went sailing with Able Sail, another group I discovered at the SCIO Recreation Exhibit. We also greatly benefitted from an evening information session on wheelchair travel.
SCIO’s outreach does not stop at the injury victims themselves, but also extends to family members’ needs. Through their Peer Support Program, they linked my spouse up with another spouse with extensive experience living with their wheelchair-bound partner.
All that in just nine months since my accident. And we continue to benefit from SCIO, whether through the on-going Peer Support Program or events that SCIO organizes regularly.
Learn more about Spinal Cord Injury Ontario