I was 15 years old when I was paralyzed from the waist down in a car crash.
It took some time to come to terms with my new life, but I never gave up hope. I know that the days, weeks, and months following a spinal cord injury can be frightening and overwhelming. Everything changes in an instant, and you have so many questions about what the future holds for you. Thankfully, there are a lot of people and organizations out there who are going to help you get through acute care, rehabilitation, and back into your community. You don’t have to do it alone.
A spinal cord injury does not mean the end of your hopes and dreams, or the ability to walk again. This resource section can help you find the latest information on research, clinical trials and rehabilitation techniques that may have an impact on improved function and recovery. You’ll also find peer support, financial resources, and organizations that can help you renovate your home to make it accessible, get assistive devices to help you with everyday tasks, get you back to work or school, and much more. Also included is a listing of rehab centres close to you, and an overview of how spinal cord injury researchers are working to find a cure and develop treatments that will help you lead an active and healthy life. There have been great advances in acute care and treatment and every year there are more discoveries made that provide much hope for the future. When you are ready, take the time to read through these pages and arm yourself with information that will help you on your journey.
If someone in your family or a friend has recently sustained a spinal cord injury, these resources are just as important for you. Canada has some of the best healthcare professionals in the world who will ensure that your loved one receives the treatment they need. It’s up to you to be supportive and learn as much as you can to help your family member through their journey from injury to full participation in their community. My family, friends and mentors have been a huge influence on my life, and their support has helped me get through every single day since my accident.
I know this time is incredibly difficult, but it is truly amazing what you can accomplish through courage and determination. Never forget that anything is possible.
Rick Hansen at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony