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Discovering New Possibilities at Tricia Downing's Camp Discovery

by Jessica September 7 2017 06:42
camp discovery for women with disabilities and spinal cord injuries

Tricia Downing has always been a competitive, physically active person from as early as she can remember. As a child, she enjoyed swimming, gymnastics, and running, among other activities, but her true love was bicycling and competitively racing. She could never have imagined that a day spent doing her favorite thing in the world would end with her in the hospital, unable to feel her legs, after she was hit by a car. In one fateful moment, her life was changed forever. Life after her accident might have been much different if she'd chosen to let it keep her down. It would've been easy to give up, but she had an undying passion to stay active and overcome her challenges.

tricia downing spinal cord injury

After the Spinal Cord Injury

After she'd been knocked from her bicycle over the hood of the car, the minutes until the emergency services arrived felt excruciatingly long, but soon, she was escorted quickly to St. Anthony's Hospital in Denver. Over three weeks were spent there in intensive care, as they tried to determine the full extent of her injuries. After that, she was transferred to Craig Hospital for the rehabilitation process, where she had to re-learn how to accomplish basic daily tasks like transferring from her wheelchair to her bed, getting in and out of the shower on her own, and more.

tricia downing paraplegic hand cyclingThe physical and occupational therapy she received was the foundation for her new life, but her time spent in recreational therapy, also known as rec therapy, became her favorite thing to do while she was still in the rehabilitation hospital. Her rec therapist let her know that she was going to help Tricia get back to doing the things she loved and introduce her to new activities too. Tricia was introduced to hand-cycling, and after one ride, she was hooked. 

New Wheels Rolling

One of the first things Tricia decided to do after being released from rehab was to get involved in wheelchair sports. She knew it would be a challenge, but she wanted to face it all head-on and not let her injury hold her back from doing things she loved.


"I think one of the things about having an accident such as this, having a change of life, is that it really makes you look inside and see who you are. When I got out of Craig Hospital, I knew that I could do more with myself. I basically got a second chance, so I knew I had to do something great."



trish downing paraplegic athlete paralympics headshotSince her accident, she has completed over 100 races, including marathons, and she was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman triathlon. She also qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in 2006 and 2010 and competed on the U.S. Rowing team in the World Championship in 2011.

Eventually, she was drawn to the competitive sport of shooting in 2014, and she finished 17th in a 2015 World Cup event. She also competed on the U.S. Team in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

Still, there were more goals for Tricia while she continued leading a physically active lifestyle and competing in sports. She wanted to give back to others who had been injured or had disabilities. She wanted to be equipped to help them find a way to enjoy fitness and physical activity, just like her. So, with that goal in mind, she became a professional speaker and also decided to go back to school, where she completed Master's Degrees in both Disability Studies and Sports Management.

This became the foundation for her next big goal.

Opening New Doors With Camp Discovery

camp discovery yoga for women with spinal cord injuriesIn 2009, nine years after her accident, Tricia founded a camp in Colorado specifically for women 21-years-old and up who are in wheelchairs for conditions like spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, and other conditions. Aptly named Camp Discovery, this camp helps these women to redefine their lives and forget the old limits. The three-day camp teaches female wheelchair-users all about physical fitness but also allows them to have time to create new friendships with others with similar experiences and obstacles. Combining holistic and physical wellness practices, the camp activities help women to find a place of confidence, security, and self-acceptance. 

Over the years, the camp has grown, and women from all over the country attend each year at the beautiful Rocky Mountain Village in Empire, Colorado. In addition to being able to commune with one another and forge new friendships, the female camp-goers are offered the opportunities to participate in such sports and activities as:

  • Wheelchair tennis
  • SCUBA diving
  • Horseback riding
  • Art therapy
  • Nutrition classes
  • Massage
  • Yoga and pilates
  • Swimming
  • Sled hockey
  • Kayaking 
  • and more!

trish downing at camp discovery

Tricia wanted to be able to show women in wheelchairs that there is still fun to be had in life, no matter their condition, and to let them know that they're not alone. Today, her goal continues to be helping others overcome their fears and limiting beliefs to unlock new possibilities for themselves.

You can find out more information about Camp Discovery at: thecycleofhope.org/campdiscovery and campdiscoveryco.com




Today, Tricia continues to be involved at Camp Discovery each year, and she also does professional speaking engagements to talk about her life path and motivate others to believe in themselves, no matter their disability or condition.

Learn more about Tricia and her amazing story at: triciadowning.com  

tricia downing motivational speaker sci quote



About the Author:
Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 8 years. Her current job title is Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.

Beating Spinal Cord Injury One Day at a Time: Mason Ellis's Story

by Jessica August 16 2017 06:09
mason ellis beating spinal cord injury quadriplegia

Vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. In fact, more than 35% of new spinal cord injuries each year are from car or motorcycle accidents. In 2015, just after the second semester of his senior year of high school began, Mason Ellis was involved in an car accident that left him a quadriplegic. From the beginning, he refused to allow his injury to beat him. Instead, he has made it his focus to defeat his injury one day at a time.

mason ellis quadriplegic

The Accident & the Aftermath

Mason couldn't have ever imagined that a fun night out with a friend driving along country roads in his home state of Indiana would lead to life in a wheelchair. After an unexpected four-way stop that dipped into a decline on a loose gravel, his car went out of control and hit an embankment, ejecting Mason nearly a hundred feet away. The car was totaled, but Mason was still alive, against all odds.
mason ellis SCI car accident
He was rushed to the hospital, and the doctors and nurses weren't sure he'd make it due to the extent of his injuries. In the crash, Mason's left shin, left femur, left collarbone, top and bottom jaw, the palate in his mouth, and some of his teeth were broken. On top of that, he cracked his skull and sustained a traumatic brain injury, and the fifth, sixth, and seventh cervical vertebrae in his neck were injured. He was now quadriplegic (C5, C6, C7).



Mason recovered in the hospital for 30 days before being transferred to the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana to start physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy (due to his brain injury). The rest of his time was devoted to learning how to gain independence back with skills like eating and brushing his teeth on his own. 

Although he looked forward to returning to his old routine after he was released from rehab, when he got home, he realized that life as a quadriplegic was going to be far more of a challenge than anticipated. Mason says, "I was clueless when I came home, and I didn't know anybody else who had my level of injury." After a few visits from a physical therapist and an occupational therapist, Mason was left on his own to learn how to maneuver in the world again as a newly paralyzed young man. 

On top of navigating life in a wheelchair, he also had to become responsible for his own catheterization routine. Mason was introduced to 180 Medical through his rehabilitation hospital, and once he discovered an intermittent catheter that worked well for his limited hand dexterity, he began to feel more confident about self-cathing.

mtg ez gripper closed system catheter mason ellis

Mason says, "I have to say the MTG EZ-Gripper really helps in preventing UTIs for me. It's a closed system, so you don't have to touch the tubing, and it has an introducer tip to bypass bacteria in the urethra." At 180 Medical, we have one of the largest selections of intermittent catheters, since no type or brand will be the right fit for everyone. We're always glad to take time to listen to our customers so we can help them find the right catheters for their individual needs and preferences.

Making a Positive Impact

Sharing Knowledge Through Videos 
As time went on, Mason says, "I hadn't really figured out how to do many things post-injury." Left with few options for information on how to complete tasks as a quadriplegic, such as daily strength exercises and getting dressed independently, he began scouring the internet for helpful resources. Unfortunately, his search came up short. The few videos he found weren't quite what he was looking for, and he figured that others like him might also be searching for the same information. He wanted to share his experience and how he has learned to do daily tasks that quadriplegics might want to know more about. That's when he decided he would take matters into his own hands; he would use his prior experience of making YouTube videos prior to his injury to create new video content and upload it to share on a YouTube channel

Soon, he started to hear from other people with spinal cord injuries who wanted to let him know how helpful his videos were. Family, friends, and loved ones of those living with spinal cord injuries also gave him positive feedback. To his surprise, he even heard from doctors, caregivers, therapists, and students learning about quadriplegia in medical school. 

Every day, more and more people discover the multitude of helpful videos Mason has personally worked so hard to create. He has hundreds of ideas left to offer, and he's excited to continue on this path and further develop his channel to connect and talk with others.


Some of Mason's most popular videos include:

Peer Mentoring Others with Spinal Cord Injuries
mason ellis peer mentor"People say I came a long way based on everything I broke. I haven't had many complications, and I feel really thankful for that," Mason says. Quadriplegics often face complications such as pressure sores and UTIs (urinary tract infections), and knowing this, Mason wanted to do what he could to help them.

He is now a certified Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation peer mentor, and he visits his old rehab to talk with recently injured patients before they are discharged to go back home.

During these mentoring sessions, Mason likes to share some of what he's learned, such as:
  • maintaining and gaining strength
  • proper hygiene
  • products that have helped him
  • staying mindful of the importance of doing pressure reliefs to minimize the risk of pressure sores


"I'm passionate about peer mentoring, because [my injury] really affected my life. I like to try and help out the community."



Staying Active & Meeting New People
Mason is more physically active now than he was before his injury. "I feel like I took being able-bodied for granted," he says, "So I never tried. Now, this is like proving to myself that I can do it and proving to others they're wrong if they say I can't do it." Some of the things he loves to do is hunt, fish, and ride in his adaptive UTV to visit friends and roam around the town where he lives.

mason ellis at camp possabilityOne place he loves to visit in the summer is a local camp in Indiana for disabled adults, ages 18-35, who have conditions like spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injuries. At Camp PossAbility, young adults get the opportunity to meet and befriend others like them and participate in fun outdoor adventures like adaptive horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, zip-lining, and more. Mason learned about the camp when someone reached out to him about it through his YouTube channel.

He was also able to connect with the creator of Able Outdoors Magazine, and now Mason is a contributing columnist for the magazine. He writes about some of his experiences with hunting and other fun adaptive outdoor activities.

When he mentors others, he likes to talk about some of these hobbies in order to let them know that life isn't over for them, and they can still do all the things they loved doing before in new, adaptive ways.

Looking Forward to Whatever Comes Next

mason ellis standing Outside of his growing YouTube channel, Mason keeps busy with college courses in Information Technology, and he hopes to have his car adapted so he can start driving again. He just wants keep moving forward.

Mason says, "I think it feels good to beat your injuries. It took me a while to figure everything out, but I like to say that I beat my injury when I learn certain tasks. I don't want the injury beating me."

Mason has already positively affected hundreds of lives with his videos, Able Outdoors columns, connecting with others at camp, and taking time to talk to people who need help adapting to their new life in a wheelchair after a spinal cord injury. We're sure he's going to go on to do many more great things and continue impacting others in significant ways. 


mason ellis sci quote

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About the Author:
Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 8 years. Her current job title is Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.


Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Bladder Healthy

by Jessica November 30 2016 10:55

November is National Bladder Health Month, and we are glad that an entire month is dedicated to the importance of the bladder. It's an organ that often goes unrecognized in its impact on your body's health until it stops working the way it should, but it's a crucial part of your urinary system as well as your overall well-being. Even your emotions can be impacted when you experience adverse symptoms that come with a condition such as an overactive bladder (OAB), bladder cancer, Interstitial Cystitis (also known as Bladder Pain Syndrome), incontinence (loss of bladder control) or urinary retention (an inability to empty the bladder completely), to name a few more common issues. 

Literally millions of people are affected by these conditions, particularly incontinence (which is estimated to affect anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of all men and women in the United States), so it's important to bring awareness about bladder health, bladder conditions, and how common they are, as a first step of getting rid of the stigma associated with these issues. 

Top 5 Tips for Bladder Health

We here at 180 Medical are committed to making sure you have the information you need to stay as healthy as possible, so here are some tips for your bladder's health.

1. Watch what you drink. 
Drinking the right amount of water for your individual needs (typically between six to eight 8 oz. glasses) is, of course, crucial for your body's overall health. The proper amount of fluid assists your entire urinary system in doing its job to flush waste from your body. But did you know that both caffeine (usually consumed in the form of coffee, certain sodas, or tea) and alcohol are both bladder irritants? Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, which can overstimulate the bladder and reduces your body's fluid. These are both things you'll want to avoid, particularly if you are dealing with symptoms of incontinence or overactive bladder. 

2. Quit smoking.
Did you know that smoking tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, etc.) actually increases the risk of bladder cancer? If you smoke, you are actually 2 to 3 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-smokers. The chemicals in tobacco are filtered through your lungs, out of your blood, and finally into the urinary system as waste, and eventually, these chemicals can affect the lining of the bladder, which increases the chance of cancer developing over time. Among the other many reasons to quit smoking, this is certainly an important one to consider.  

3. Lose excess weight.
If you are overweight, working to lose weight can also help reduce symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. When extra weight presses down on the bladder and the supporting muscles, it makes it harder for your body to hold on to the fluid inside the bladder, which can cause leakage, especially when you laugh, cough, sneeze. Daily exercise and eating right can help you get closer to your fitness goals as well as improve your bladder's health.

talk to your doctor 4. Do your daily Kegels.
Just like lifting weights strengthens and tones your muscles, Kegel exercises are important for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and the urethra, which can have a very positive effect and lessens symptoms of incontinence. Learn more about how to perform Kegels here.

5.  Talk to your doctor. 
If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, such as urine leakage, an inability to void your bladder, or any pain/discomfort in the pelvic region or when urinating, be sure to schedule an appointment to see a healthcare professional that can best diagnose what's going on as well as determine a proper treatment plan. Many avoid going to see a urologist or their general practitioner about their "bathroom troubles," because it can feel embarrassing, but as said, many people experience these issues too, and doctors are there to get you well again. 

If you need to use intermittent catheters as part of your doctor's treatment plan, we're happy to help you find the best catheter for your needs. Contact us today to speak with one of our trained, friendly specialists.


About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 7 years. Her current job title is Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company. 

 

8 Tips for Adapting After a Spinal Cord Injury

by billf September 27 2016 18:24
tips for adapting after an SCI


My name is Bill, and I have worked for 180 Medical for over 10 years. bill f 180 medicalAbout 26 years ago, I was involved in a motocross accident that rendered me quadriplegic. You can learn more about my story here. Over the years since then, I've been able to use my experiences to help and counsel others who are also dealing with life after a spinal cord injury. I am happiest when I am helping others, and these days at 180 Medical, I spend a lot of time just talking to our customers on the phone who are new to self-catheterizing.

As you may already know, September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, so, as a C5-6 quadriplegic, I'd like to share a few helpful tips for anyone living with an SCI, particularly those new to their injury and recently released from their rehabilitation center.

1. Plan a daily routine. 
While in rehabilitation therapy, my fellow patients and I were woken up every day at 6:00 a.m. and kept to a pretty orderly schedule from morning to night. If your rehab was anything like mine, they probably had you on a daily schedule like this. I recommend trying to stick to something similar, or perhaps you can come up with a daily routine of your own that will work better for your individual needs.

Having a routine re-establishes a sense of dependable structure after such an injury that does alter your life in many ways. When we create positive habits, whether we live with a SCI or not, this practice has a way of enhancing your life. Especially in early recovery after you're released, having too much extra time without a schedule or tasks to do can lead to depression. Find something you love to do or participate in, create a routine, and eventually, it will become a habit.

Important note: Be sure to continue your self-cathing and bowel program as your doctor or healthcare professional has prescribed. 


2. Exercise and eat well.
Exercise will help you maintain or even lose weight, if necessary. I know it's not uncommon for those with spinal cord injuries to gain weight once they are in a wheelchair, mainly due to inactivity. But it's important to try your best to stay in shape, and not just because it's always a great idea to maintain optimal health, no matter your level of injury. Exercise may also help you regain your independence, and you might find that it becomes a lot easier to transfer from your wheelchair to your car, a toilet, or to your bed, and continue your other daily activities.  

While in rehabilitation therapy, you may have been taught a daily exercise routine with weights, resistance bands, and wheelchair pushes, as I was. When you return home after your release, you might not have access to all the necessary equipment at home. It might be worth checking with your rehabilitation center to see if they offer continuing outpatient-based visits, so you can continue to use their equipment or get assistance with workouts. You might also check with your local gym or fitness center, as they might also have adaptive equipment.

For exercising at home, you may find, as I have, that resistance bands are a great help, because they're not only very effective but inexpensive as well. You can also purchase hand weights or even wrist band weights if you have limited hand dexterity like me.

Continuing to work on pushing your own wheelchair (if you are physically able), is also of great importance. I recall when I first returned home, I would spend an hour during the day pushing my chair as long and hard as I could. At first, I could barely push up a ramp, but with continued effort, I was able to push on my own for a few miles, which was a huge success! I also made sure to keep going to my local rehab center at least three times a week to lift weights and resistance train.

Maintaining a healthy diet is also important to your health. Your rehabilitation therapist or healthcare professional may be able to counsel you on the best foods for your health or refer you to a certified nutritionist to formulate a specialized diet for you.


3. Consider going back to school or work.
If you already had a job before your injury and are planning on returning to work after rehab, your employer should assist you in making any necessary accommodations, so you can continue to work for them. If you are interested in trying to go back to work or plan on working in the future, get in contact with your local Department of Rehabilitation Services, who can assist you in helping find a job, as well as designing a plan and providing you with the necessary accommodations you might require in order to work. They can also assist you in making a plan for any continuing education. Fortunately, they also often offer resources that may help pay for all or part of your education costs. 

There are also scholarships available to those with disabilities, such as 180 Medical's annually offered College Scholarship Program. You can learn more about that at our scholarship page.

Most schools and universities have a department specifically to assist those of us with disabilities. They help make sure that your classes are accessible for you, and if you have any other special needs, they can work to make the necessary accommodations for you. Examples of this could range from getting someone to assist you in taking notes to getting a classroom location changed, if the original classroom is not physically accessible. 

I knew a young man who had done construction work all of his life, and, after breaking his back, he realized that he would no longer be able to do that type of work anymore. Even though he had limited education originally, he decided to go back to school went back to school, ended up becoming an attorney, and has been very successful.

No matter what you were doing before you had your spinal cord injury, the sky is the limit on what you can do in the future. While it took me a while before I was able to get my first job, I was so grateful to finally have a daily purpose with going to work, because I was starting to get depressed by not doing anything. No matter what your level of injury is, see what job options might be available to you if that is of interest.


4. Join a local support group.
I can't say enough good things about support groups. These meetings can be so beneficial. Not only does it allow you to share ideas with people who are going or have gone through the same things, but some of my best friends today are people I met through my local support group.

Most states, cities, or larger towns have spinal cord injury support group meetings or an association of some sort. For example, i'm originally from a small town of approximately 15,000 people, and even there, we had a group that met every month. There were not that many of us, but it was nice to meet people in my area with similar disabilities and understood some of the issues I was also encountering. If you live in a rural area, you might have to travel to get to the nearest meeting. The Spinal Cord Association in Oklahoma City offers their meetings by Skype, so that people who are unable to make it to the meeting can still participate. If there is not already a support group in your area yet, you might consider starting one.


5. Use the Internet.
There is a wealth of information available to you on the internet, from educational information, community activities, local support groups, helpful webinars, adaptive equipment and clothing, charitable associations, and more. If you have found this article, then you already know what I mean. I have written several blogs for 180 Medical discussing all types of issues which you may also find helpful, all the way from achieving independence as a quadriplegic, traveling, adaptive clothing for people in wheelchairs, and even my experience with adaptive sports like kayaking.  

Some great resources to start:
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
National Spinal Cord Injury Association (United Spinal)
Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation
Progressive Independence
DREAM (Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring)
Dream2Walk 
Triumph Foundation
Facing Disability


6. Start driving again.
For me, personally, getting behind the wheel again was the biggest step in feeling as if I had gained my independence back. While I know that some people have too great a level of injury to be able to drive themselves, many others are still able to do so.

Most paraplegics are able to transfer into a car or truck, break their wheelchair down, and load it into their vehicle, so the only modifications they may require are hand controls and possibly a steering wheel knob. These modifications are usually under a few thousand dollars. As a quadriplegic, I require a van with a lift, automatic door openers, a 6-way seat base, hand controls, and a tri-pin on my steering wheel. These adaptive modifications to one's vehicle can end up being very costly, however. There are more types of modifications available.

If your ultimate goal is to get back to work, then the Department of Rehabilitation Services might help pay for the disability modifications, but you are responsible for paying for the vehicle. If you currently have a vehicle, check to see if it can be modified. If you are purchasing a new vehicle to have modified, most manufacturers offer up to $1000 to assist in paying for your adaptive equipment. 


7. Participate in Adaptive Sports and Recreation.

bill adaptive kayaking 180 medicalWhether you want to professionally compete in sports or just enjoy doing something for fun, there are so many options available to you, both indoors and outdoors. I personally enjoy swimming, kayaking, riding my hand-crank bike, water-skiing, and I even went snow-skiing once but haven’t had the opportunity to go back yet. Check your local resources and give the internet a quick search to see what is available. 

A few helpful organizations and informational websites:
Life Rolls On (Surf and Skating events)
National Wheelchair Basketball Association
VA Adaptive Sports (US Department of Veterans Affairs)
Disabled Sports USA (this includes local chapters and youth programs as well)
Blaze Sports America
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation information on Team Sports
Paralyzed Veterans of America Sports
Oklahoma Adaptive Sports Association (OKASA)
U.S. Paralympics
Adaptive Sports USA
Adaptive Adventures

8. Never give up.
Above all, don't lose hope! Life is not over for you, even if it has been drastically changed by your injury. There is help and assistance available, and many opportunities exist out there.

As someone who has been where you are right now as a newly injured person living with a spinal cord injury, I wish you all the best on your new journey and hope you will be able to reach out for any support you may need at this crucial time in your life.

Did you know that September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month? Learn more:
spinal cord injury awareness month 2016

 
bill bio pic 180 medical employee
Bill has worked for 180 Medical for over 10 years. He loves getting to talk to our customers, sharing his first-hand experiences as a quadriplegic, and helping those with in-depth questions about self-catheterization. He enjoys spending time outdoors, as well as watching and attending motocross events. Learn more about Bill's story.

OKASA Wheelchair Basketball Tournament

by Jessica April 15 2016 19:01
We here at 180 Medical are getting revved up and ready for one of our favorite annual events to support and attend: the OKASA (Oklahoma Adaptive Sports Association, formerly known as GODSA) Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. Each year, we like to get a big group together, bring along our family and friends, and attend this fun tournament, where we get to watch the Oklahoma City Blaze get into the action! 

This year's 8th annual tournament, which will be held at Oklahoma City University's Freede Wellness Center on April 28th, 2016, helps to raise funds to support disabled athletes. This makes it our sixth consecutive year to join forces with OU Physicians to support this great event, and we have even formed a team of our own -- for better, for worse!



Do you think we stand a chance to win against the fantastic players of The Blaze? Come and witness the action go down, when our game starts at 7:25 p.m. that evening. We'd love to see you there! 

okasa wheelchair basketball tournament 180 medical


About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for nearly 7 years. Her current job title is Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company! She loves writing, playing music, creating art, and spending quality time with her dogs, friends & family.
 

Adaptive Kayaking

by billf September 18 2015 08:08
My name is Bill, and I have worked for 180 Medical for over 10 years. bill f 180 medicalAbout 26 years ago, I was involved in a motocross accident that rendered me quadriplegic. You can learn more about my story here. Over the years since then, I've been able to help and counsel others who are also dealing with life after a spinal cord injury. I am happiest when I am helping others, and these days at 180 Medical, I spend a lot of time just talking to our customers on the phone who are new to catheterizing.

I live in Oklahoma City, and I feel fortunate to live here, because we have a lot of wonderful organizations that work hard to provide fun events and opportunities for people are physically-challenged.  

I'm always up for trying new activities, and kayaking is the latest endeavor that I've really enjoyed participating in. This free-of-charge program is put on by OKC RIVERSPORT through a partnership with INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation. The location is on the Oklahoma River in downtown Oklahoma City. It is free of charge and available to adults (and their caregivers) ages 18+ with physical and visual disabilities.  No experience is necessary, although there is a waiver that must be filled out before being allowed to participate. You do not have to be able to swim, but you must feel comfortable in the water. I do believe that you have to be able to turn yourself over if you are face down in the water while wearing a personal flotation device (life-jacket).  

The kayaks are designed to accommodate a wide range of disabilities. For someone like myself who is a C-5,6 quadriplegic, the kayak is equipped with a special seat that has a higher back with lateral supports to keep me from falling over since I have very little trunk control. I also sit on a cushion to prevent skin breakdown from prolonged pressure. The kayak has outriggers attached to both sides which make it virtually impossible to turn over.  They also have special paddles with wrist cuffs and other adaptations that allow me to grip the paddle since my hands are nonfunctioning.  They provide life-jackets as well as all of the other needed equipment.

bill adaptive kayaking 180 medicalOn my first time there, we were able to get the paddles adjusted to my liking, and in just a short amount of time, I was ready to go! Two volunteers lifted me from my wheelchair into the kayak.  They will provide you with as much assistance as you need.  You even have a volunteer that is near you the entire time while you are on the water just in case you run into any problems. The first time I went out, I admit I was a little nervous on how stable the boat would be, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was very stable, and I let go of my fear about tipping over. It was a great feeling to be out of the wheelchair and free on the open water. It did not take very long to figure out how to paddle decently and before I knew it I was cruising right along.  

One thing I will say is it is good exercise. I found myself getting winded sooner than expected. After about an hour, I had pretty much worn myself out and was ready to come back to the dock.  When you are finished, volunteers are there to assist you in getting back into your wheelchair if you require one.  Since I have been participating in this fun activity, I have gotten to meet people there -- some with visual disabilities, amputees, and varying levels of spinal cord injuries. There is a young man that is a higher level quadriplegic than myself.  They have a special modification for him that actually holds the paddle on a bar that comes up between his legs so all he has to do is connect his hands to the paddle and rotate the paddle into the water.  I can see the joy in his face every time he goes out, because this has just opened up a new world for him.  

A great website that offers all of the modifications for the kayaks is creatingability.com.  They may be able to assist you in finding a program in your local area.  You might also try to contact your local rehabilitation center, associations, support groups, or other resources specific to your condition.  Some of the other activities available in my area include adaptive waterskiing and sailing.  Then get out there and have some fun!  

Did you know September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month? Learn more.
sci awareness graphic footer

 
bill bio pic 180 medical employee
Bill has worked for 180 Medical for over 10 years. He loves getting to talk to our customers, sharing his first-hand experiences as a quadriplegic, and helping those with in-depth questions about self-catheterization. He enjoys spending time outdoors, as well as watching and attending motocross events. Learn more about Bill's story.

7th Annual GODSA Wheelchair Basketball Tournament

by Jessica April 15 2015 16:06
180 Medical recently had the privilege of getting to once again participate and sponsor the annual GODSA (Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association) wheelchair basketball fundraiser. This event, which was held at the Oklahoma City University's Freede Wellness Center on April 9th, 2015, helps to raise funds to support disabled athletes.
180 medical GODSA event 2015 pic 1

This is the 5th consecutive year that we've joined forces with OU Physicians to support this great tournament. We had a great group of 180 Medical employees and some of their families show up to cheer the teams on. We had a team of our own at play again as well.

180 medical GODSA event 2015 pic 2
Each year that we participate, we have such a fun time, and we are all honored to get the opportunity to be a part of such a worthy cause.

About GODSA: The Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association is an organization that supports recreational and athletic activities for adults and children with disabilities. Recreational and competitive events include basketball, track and field, swimming, road racing, table tennis, weight-lifting, and water sports. It promotes health and fitness and teaches life-long skills such as team effort, sportsmanship, setting goals, commitment and responsibility. Learn more at their official website or connect with their youth wheelchair basketball team, the Oklahoma Blaze, at their Facebook page.


180 medical jessAbout the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for over 5 years and currently holds the title of Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.

180 Medical College Scholarship Recipients: Spotlight on Noah

by Jessica October 27 2014 11:05
180 medical scholarship recipients 2014

We officially announced the 2014 winners of our annual 180 Medical College Scholarship on August 1st, 2014, and since that time, we have been featuring our nine individual recipients as the Fall semester progresses, including Nichole, Elena, Danielle, Garrett, Ian, Chelsea, and Kayla.

Today, we're happy to let you meet another one of our well-deserving scholarship recipients, Noah.


180 medical scholarship winner 2014 noah mussay

180 Medical Scholarship Recipient Noah's Goals and Achievements

Noah's drive and strength really impressed us all here at 180 Medical. Although he was born with Spina Bifida, he refuses to let his condition define him.

While he was growing up, he began to feel a need to interact with other kids who had similar issues and feelings while noah mussay sled hockeyremaining active. He actively began searching for the right activity that would give him a physical outlet and allow him to meet other kids with disabilities, and finally, he discovered a passion: sled hockey.

Since he joined his local sled hockey team, the Chicago Hornets, he has grown into a role as a leader and a role model for the younger kids on the team, and he always makes sure to exhibit qualities like good sportsmanship and confidence.

"It is important to me to show these young kids, as well as the able-bodied kids, that although we look different, we can still play the game seriously," Noah says.

On top of playing sled hockey, Noah has also maintained excellent grades in school, leading him to graduate in the top ten percent of his senior class. He shows a sense of purpose and drive in all he does, and he knows that while he may face certain challenges in life that come with having Spina Bifida, he is learning more every day how to rely on himself. He often advocates for himself when needed, such as coordinating his own workout regimen with a physical therapist since his school did not offer an adaptive physical education program.

Noah has just begun his Freshman year at the University of Saint Francis and will be majoring in Mass Communications.

It's exciting to see someone with such drive and determination move forward with his goals, and we are happy to be able to play a part in contributing to his future endeavors.

180 Medical College Scholarship

180 Medical is honored to have a scholarship program to help those with spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, transverse myelitis, and/or a neurogenic bladder. Paying for college isn't easy these days, and we understand that there are often extra financial difficulties for aspiring students who live with these conditions.

To learn more about 180 Medical's College Scholarship program, visit www.180medical.com/Scholarships.

What is Spina Bifida?

Did you know that this month is National Spina Bifida Awareness Month? Learn more about this condition and what you can do to raise awareness here.

spina bifida awareness month


180 medical jessAbout the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 5 years and currently holds the title of Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.
 

180 Medical College Scholarship Recipients: Spotlight on Ian

by Jessica September 23 2014 16:57
2014 180 medical scholarship winners

After the announcement of our 2014 180 Medical College Scholarship recipients on August 1st, 2014, we have been featuring our nine individual winners on our blog, and today, we'd love to introduce you to another well-deserving recipient, Ian Peterson.

180 medical scholarship winner ian peterson 2014

Seven years ago, just one month after his high school graduation during a fun summer outing at a lake, Ian took a dive into the water and tragically injured his spinal cord at C6-7, leaving him a quadriplegic. While this accident could've potentially had a negative affect on his life, he felt that the rehabilitation period helped him to learn more about himself. Over the course of much rehabilitation and therapy, he has been able to regain the use of his arms and hands, as well as some sensation in his core.

Prior to his accident, Ian wanted to pursue a career in medicine, already having had obtained his EMT certification. "I felt that since I am in a chair, I would be able to have a positive impact on people with spinal cord injuries and improve their quality of life," Ian says. He spoke with friends and mentors about his strengths, his weaknesses, and what career path he should take, and after careful thought, he decided to focus on a goal of becoming an administrator at either a long-term care facility, skilled nursing center, or rehabilitation hospital, and in this way he will still be able to "care for those who could not otherwise care for themselves without assistance."

While Ian has continued his therapy, ian peterson scholarship winnerhe has also stayed active with hand cycling, and he is also on the North Texas Cowboys Quad Rugby team. He married the love of his life in 2013, which was an exciting milestone. During this time, he has also maintained good scholarly standing on the Dean’s List, along with maintaining membership with the American College of Health Executives, Upcoming Student Professionals, and president of the UNTHSC MHA Association. As of January 2014, he has been working as an Administrator in Training at Green Valley Rehabilitation. Ian is attending graduate school at the University of North Texas Health Science Center this fall and plans to graduate in December of 2014. We're excited to play a part in assisting Ian with his goals in graduate school and to see how he will be able to help others in his future career.

180 Medical is honored to have a scholarship program to help those with spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, transverse myelitis, and/or a neurogenic bladder. Paying for college isn't easy these days, and we understand that there are often extra financial difficulties for aspiring students who live with these conditions. To learn more about 180 Medical's College Scholarship program, visit http://www.180medical.com/Scholarships.

Did you know that September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month? Learn more here.

180 medical spinal cord injury awareness month

About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 5 years and currently holds the title of Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.

180 Medical College Scholarship Recipients: Spotlight on Garrett

by Jessica September 10 2014 10:53
2014 scholarship recipients header 180 medical

On August 1st, 2014, we announced our 2014 180 Medical College Scholarship Recipients. We continue to shine the spotlight on our nine individual winners on our blog. So far, you have learned about Nichole and Danielle. Now, take a moment to meet another well-deserving winner, Garrett Bazany.

180 medical scholarship winner garrett bazany

When Garrett was only a 15-year-old teenage boy playing on a trampoline in the backyard, the unthinkable happened. He took a fall and broke his neck, leaving him an incomplete quadriplegic. Garrett states that while it was a difficult experience in which his faith was tested, he found a new way to look at his life. "With a lot of prayer, determination, a positive attitude, and support from friends and family, I learned that anything is possible."

Being an incomplete quadriplegic meant he might not ever be able to walk again. The odds may have been against him, but through hours of physical therapy and sheer determination, Garrett was able to walk with the aid of a walker across the stage at his high school graduation. His classmates weren't the only ones who were amazed -- his story even appeared on the local news and the Today Show. While he is not walking on his own just yet, he has a goal to keep breaking the limits.

 

Throughout high school, Garrett has maintained a high GPA (graduated high school with a 3.98 GPA) as a Distinguished Academic Leader and a member of the National Honor Society. He was voted by his Senior Class of high school as "Most Likely to Make an Impact." In his first year at Calvin College, he was awarded the American College Foundation Visionary Scholarship Grand Prize and the Dean's Scholarship for outstanding academic achievement. During this time, he has stayed active in his community, volunteering at the Special Olympics and at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Center, where he counseled and mentored other teen boys who were going through rehabilitation after a spinal cord injury. He also maintains an active lifestyle, participating in adaptive downhill snow skiing, adaptive water skiing, 180 medical scholarship winner garrett bazany skiingIntramural Dodge Ball, indoor rock wall climbing, and kayaking.

Garrett is now in his second year of attendance at Calvin College. He is majoring in Pre-Medicine, and his goal is to become a rehabilitation physician to help others faced with similar experiences to his own. "I will be in a unique position to really make an impact in the world of rehab and advocate for others with a disability, since I have firsthand experience on what it is like to live with paralysis," he says. We here at 180 Medical are excited to see what Garrett achieves and how he will touch others' lives with his positive attitude, his experience, and his future career.

180 Medical is honored to have a scholarship program to help those with spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, transverse myelitis, and/or a neurogenic bladder. Paying for college isn't easy these days, and we understand that there are often extra financial difficulties for aspiring students who live with these conditions. To learn more about 180 Medical's College Scholarship program, visit http://www.180medical.com/Scholarships.

Did you know that September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month? Learn more here.

spinal cord injury awareness month 180 Medical

180 medical jessAbout the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 5 years and currently holds the title of Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for such a fun, caring company.