Spinal Cord Injury Ontario - Ottawa Office

I am very pleased to share the amazing work of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario - Ottawa (SCIO) serving Eastern Ontario and beyond.

I first learned about SCIO in the early 90s after emigrating back to my hometown Ottawa from Great Britain. Tragically, I did not return as the strong able-bodied man I was when I left Canada 8 years prior, but rather, as a C 4/5 (complete) quadriplegic and living my life from my wheelchair. I was paralyzed from the neck down in a freak fall during training on my trampoline in England May 18th, 1985. I was a World Cup champion freestyle skier with more than 40 titles and ranked number 1 in Europe and Britain. I was a contender for the 1st World Freestyle Skiing Championships in 1986 and our sport’s debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games. Instead, I was fighting for my very survival. After intense rehabilitation I went to the Championships as a spectator in a wheelchair, watching others take the spotlight.

Many of the attributes I learned as a competitive athlete would serve me well in navigating my new life as a spinal cord injury survivor. However, my complete recovery would not have been possible without the important services provided by SCIO. These include representation from Ms. Angela Clair, Regional Services Coordinator, who became my “personal disability advocate” initially helping me to recruit Personal Support Workers (PSWs) to facilitate my 24/7 healthcare needs, especially challenging living in a rural community.

Last year, I was dealt some “hard blows” going in and out of Ottawa hospitals on 3 separate occasions for 3 critical medical emergencies that reinforced how precarious and fragile my life can be. Returning home, I soon identified that my manual “Hoyer Lift System” would no longer be sufficient transferring me to the bed and bathtub. Over the past 34 years, I have been able to bathe regularly which dramatically helped my skin integrity and to avoid pressure ulcers which can become a “death sentence”. Compounding my urgent need for a “ceiling track lift system” was difficulties in retaining long-term PSWs because operating the manual lift was too physically taxing.

As soon as Angela learned that I was in urgent need of the lift system, she sprang into action preparing a needs assessment and submitted numerous grant applications until we were successful in raising 80% of the cost and I contributed the remainder.

It’s difficult to put into words how beneficial it is to regularly bathe knowing that the new lift system will facilitate safe transfers for many years to come. I have learned that life is more qualitative than quantitative and that I can continue to live my life to the fullest!

Living with quadriplegia is one of the most devastating all-encompassing disabilities that can happen to anyone at any time. With more than 50,000 Canadians living with an SCI, I hope you will consider selecting Spinal Cord Injury Ontario Ottawa as a recipient of the “Lerners LLP 90th Anniversary Giveaway”.



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