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Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day Honored at 180 Medical

by Jessica September 29 2017 05:13
This is our second year at 180 Medical to set aside a special day to honor all those living with spinal cord injuries, including many of our patients, family, and friends, as well as our founder Todd Brown. We like to take time to do what we can to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries both in and outside of work, and our Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day gave our employees an opportunity to not only help raise funds to directly benefit people living with spinal cord injuries but also experience firsthand what it's like to maneuver around the workplace in a wheelchair. 

spinal cord injury awareness at 180 medical

Representing in Green

We all made it a point to wear green on SCI Day. Some of us wore green t-shirts or cardigans, even green pants and glasses frames, and others went all the way and wore as much green as they could! One of our employees even dyed his beard green for the day.

We felt that wearing green, which is the official color for Spinal Cord Injury Awareness, would be a great way to show our support and join in solidarity as a group for the cause.

180 medical wearing green for spinal cord injury awareness day


Raising Funds for the Spinal Cord Injured

Part of the fun of SCI Day was our lunchtime fundraiser, which was held at both our warehouse and our main headquarters locations here in Oklahoma City. Everyone enjoyed a few slices of pizza and brownies, and it was even more delicious knowing we were raising funds for a great cause.

Together, as a company, all employees were given the opportunity to vote which organization we want to support with this year's SCI Day Pizza & Brownie Fundraiser. We were excited to find out that by the end of the day, we had raised over $500, which will directly go to benefit people with spinal cord injuries at the organization, Will2Walk.

180 medical spinal cord injury awareness fundraiser

SCI Day Wheelchair Challenge

As part of our Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day, we wanted to give our employees a chance to take the Wheelchair Challenge and spend time during the day in a manual wheelchair. Since our company specializes in intermittent catheters and related urological supplies, along with ostomy supplies, we interact regularly with many customers who live with spinal cord injuries and use catheters daily.

We truly care about each of our customers as if they were a part of our 180 family, and it's important for us to take time to know as much as we can about spinal cord injuries as well as the challenges that those living with SCI face on a regular basis.

180 medical spinal cord injury awareness wheelchair challenge


Even though our employees were only able to get a half hour of maneuvering around in a wheelchair to make sure everyone who signed up had a chance, the impact it made was clear! Every person learned something from their experience.

Some of the biggest challenges that our many participants discovered were getting in and out of the handicapped stall in the bathroom, holding and carrying food and drinks, trying to get items from shelves, getting on and off the elevator, maneuvering through doorways, and going any place outside, especially uphill ramps and inclines.

Brent, one of our Documentation Specialists, discovered first-hand how difficult getting around and completing daily tasks can be from the seat of a wheelchair. He says, "I see now more than ever how someone with a spinal cord injury must be incredibly strong, both mentally and physically. I respect them very much." 

sci connectionThere were many challenges that some told us they had never considered before, like opening a refrigerator door and getting items out or even going to the restroom.

Amanda from our Accounting department learned that, "I have full advantage of what appears to be the simplest tasks, like reaching the top shelves in the break room, using the stairs, walking across the sidewalk without running into things. I feel truly honored to work for a company that takes the extra step to help support those with spinal cord injuries and other conditions."

Customer Specialist Meghan said she found going uphill the most trying challenge, but her personal experience was really moving and brings to light one of the big issues that many living with spinal cord injuries face. "It takes a lot of work just moving around. Without the help of others, it can feel very isolating," she told us.

This is such a big part of why we want to raise awareness. We want those living with spinal cord injuries to know they are not alone! There are support groups and great in-person communities that those with spinal cord injuries can join, and there are activities like adaptive sports, arts, and crafts that many can still participate in, depending on their injury level. 

Greg, also one of our Customer Specialists, summed up what he learned with four simple but serious words: "Take nothing for granted."

This year really helped many more of us realize just a fraction of the challenges that those living with spinal cord injuries face, and we were all happy to do our part in raising awareness. Overall, SCI Day at 180 Medical was once again a fun and educational time that allowed us all a chance to participate and give back during Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.


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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.

180 Medical Honors Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month

by Jessica September 20 2017 06:00
September is dedicated to raising awareness about spinal cord injuries (SCI). This is an especially important time to 180 Medical, since our founder lives with a spinal cord injury, as well as many of our customers, who we consider a part of the 180 family!

spinal cord injury awareness month 2017


What Is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month?

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month is a time to spread awareness about spinal cord injuries, the potential risk factors, and safety precautions that can be taken to reduce the number of injuries in the future. At the same time, it's incredibly important to acknowledge the many living with spinal cord injuries in the world today and pay tribute to their bravery and perseverance.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, here are some of the most recent facts about spinal cord injuries:
spinal cord injury awareness fact 1
Around 285,000 people are living with spinal cord injuries in the United States.

spinal cord injury fact 2
About 17,500 new spinal cord injury cases occur in the United States every year.

spinal cord injury fact 3
Males account for about 81% of new spinal cord injury cases.

spinal cord injury fact 4
The leading causes of spinal cord injuries are vehicle crashes, followed by falls, acts of violence, and sports.



The effects of spinal cord injuries are often life-altering, but even so, those affected can live normal, healthy lives after rehabilitation. Many people with spinal cord injuries go on to achieve things many thought impossible or use their experience to help positively impact others' lives, like Mason Ellis, Jen Goodwin, and Tricia Downing, just to name a few.

todd brown founder of 180 medicalOur company's founder, Todd Brown, is also a wonderful example of this, and of course, his experience makes the cause of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness very dear to our hearts here at 180 Medical.

After being paralyzed from the chest down in a motocross accident, Todd discovered first-hand what it was like to readjust to the world navigating in a wheelchair. He dealt with urinary tract infections while reusing catheters and also had the unfortunate experience of finding out that there weren't many companies out there with employees who truly seemed to care or have much knowledge about his condition or the products he needed.

That experience is what led him to create 180 Medical in order to help others living with spinal cord injuries and other conditions that require the use of catheters, related urologic supplies, and ostomy products, in the hope that he could help turn their lives around. 

180 Medical Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day

To honor Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month as well as raise awareness, 180 Medical is planning a company SCI Day at our Oklahoma City headquarters on September 27th for the second year. We'll have some fun opportunities for our employees to get involved, such as a pizza fundraiser, wearing green for awareness, and more!

180 medical sci awareness day 2016

At 180 Medical, we truly care about raising awareness about spinal cord injuries just as much as we care about every single one of our customers. We see firsthand how much this type of injury can impact and change lives.

sci connectionThanks to new research into spinal cord injuries, technology continues to advance in order to make everyday life more adaptable for those living with spinal cord injuries, including products such as closed system catheters, which provide an easier and more hygienic way to self-cath for many.

We make it a point to do what we can to support spinal cord injury groups, including our SCI Day Pizza Fundraiser, and we participate in community events when we can, such as the recent INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehab Courage Run and the annual Corporate Challenge, which goes to support disabled athletes in the Endeavor Games.

If you or a loved one are newly injured and looking for a catheter supplier who will offer you compassion and understanding, we're here for you!

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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.

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. 


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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.


Making Dreams Come True After Spinal Cord Injury: Jen Goodwin's Continuing Story

by Jessica July 6 2017 06:11


Jen Goodwin's whole world drastically changed in single moment after a fun day boating on the lake went terribly wrong, and she sustained a serious spinal cord injury at the C5 and C6 level. After her surgery and over two years of rehab, she returned back home and began to adjust to daily life as a quadriplegic. Daily tasks that were once done without a second thought, like brushing teeth and going to the bathroom, became new skills to re-master. With a lot of practice and time, Jen kept moving forward and became acquainted to daily life in a wheelchair.

Being a very goal-oriented person who thrives on a challenge, Jen decided she was ready to tackle something new. Life was going well as Jen settled into her new routine, but she was ready to start thinking about what could be next for her. Since she had demonstrated an interest in law before, her mom suggested that she ought to try taking the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). It was a surprise and a joy to find out that she performed even better than expected, and she ended up getting a full scholarship to Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas.

Back to School

jen goodwin law school graduate quadriplegic Returning to school as an adult in a wheelchair was a whole new challenge to face. She wouldn't know anyone in her new classes at all, and there were other questions on her mind now too. How would she take notes and tests when she wasn't able to write? Would the school buildings be accessible for her? Of course, these were perfectly normal concerns to have.

"I think a lot of people are afraid to go back to school after [spinal cord] injuries," Jen says, "But talk to your local Vocational Rehabilitation Services, because they have a lot of resources and information to help get people back to school. And talk to your school's Disability Resource Center. They really want to help! Even if your injury prevents you from taking notes and typing, there are still ways to be successful in school."

Jen arranged some meetings with her school's Disability Resource Center, and she was relieved to find the staff ready and willing to discuss options with her. Together, they worked out what accommodations and adjustments would need to be made in order to ensure that she would have the same opportunities for success as every other able-bodied student at the law school, such as keypads to open doors, accessible bathrooms near her classes, digital copies of textbooks, and setting her up with classmates who could take lecture notes for her.

Another Dream Come True

jen goodwin spinal cord injury family Jen worked as diligently as possible at all her courses while still making time to get to know the other law students in her classes. After a year of school, she decided it was time to focus on one of the greatest wishes of her heart: to become a mother.

At the time, there were a few people who had some opinions on her life and even doubted that Jen could handle all of these responsibilities along with having a child of her own, but she didn't let that hold her back. Talking to Jen and hearing her story in her own words would certainly make you realize that her tenacity and optimism keeps her moving forward, and there's no obstacle she's not willing to work hard to overcome. 

With the support of her doctor and her family, she picked an anonymous donor and became pregnant at just the right time during winter break, so she could spend much of the time during her first trimester out of classes. The time off was spent practicing and working with a weighted doll to find the best techniques for lifting car seats, changing her baby's clothes, and more, all while an accessible nursery for her baby boy was added on to her home. Spring semester classes went on without a hitch, and then just after school let out in the summer, little Beckham made his early arrival in June.

Today, he has a mother who loves him more than anything in the world and a wonderful support system of close family and friends, especially Jen's parents and sister.

Jen's lifelong dream of being a mom had finally come true.


Looking to the Future

So what's next for Jen now that she's graduated from law school as of May of this year? Right now, Jen is prepping for the bar exam, and after that, she starts a two-year internship working with the legal department of the local children's hospital, which seems like the perfect fit for a woman with such a big heart for children. Plus she can bring her own experiences with the legal system and living with a disability.

"I am a firm believer that the right doors open when they're supposed to," says Jen, "So we'll see what happens after that!"

We're so excited to see all the ways that Jen will go forward to achieve more dreams as well as positively impact others' lives during her journey. There were certainly obstacles along the way, but she came out on the other side with a smile, a law degree, and a son of her own. Limitations and setbacks may happen in life, but Jen is living proof that with optimism and tenacity, nothing can hold you back.

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Read Part 1 of our two-part series on Jen's life, her accident, and her time in rehab.

part 1 jen goodwin story


About the Author:
Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for nearly 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.


Determined Spirit: Jen Goodwin's Story of Life After Her Spinal Cord Injury

by Jessica June 30 2017 06:13


Nearly a decade ago, Jen Goodwin was on top of the world. She'd graduated from the University of Arkansas, bought her first house, and adopted her first dog. Then she got her dream job as a pharmaceutical sales rep, which came naturally to her with her friendly personality, big smile, and a real talent for sales. It seemed like life couldn't be better. Then everything changed in the blink of an eye. 

The Day Everything Changed

A fun day of boating and swimming at the lake with her neighbors in the summer of 2008 turned into a nightmare after dark. She and another neighbor were out in his boat when he fell backwards onto her head and then used her neck almost like a springboard to push himself back up to stand again. Immediately, she saw a flash of bright white and had a warm pleasant feeling that gave way to searing pain, and then she realized she couldn't feel her legs. It was clear something was very, very wrong.

jen goodwin picAt first, her neighbor didn't believe that she had been hurt, even claiming that she was faking her injury. In cases like this, when someone says they're hurt or have possibly sustained a spinal cord injury, it's important to keep them still and get help from emergency services as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this didn't happen for Jen. Due to her injury, she couldn't sit up or hold on to anything to maintain balance during that terrifying trip over choppy waters back to the boat ramp. It took a lot of pleading for her neighbor to relent and, after loading her into the floorboard of his truck, he eventually drove her forty-five minutes away to the local hospital.

As soon as they arrived, paramedics sprang into action to help Jen. It was obvious that she was seriously hurt, but the true extent of the damage wasn't fully known until they ran some tests. Despite her pain and fear, Jen tried to maintain a positive attitude, but when the doctor sat down with her to tell her that her neck had been broken and her spine was severely compressed at the C5 and C6 level, leaving her quadriplegic and unlikely to ever walk again, she finally let herself cry. She knew then for sure that this wasn't a simple injury that could be quickly fixed. Life had changed forever.

Life During Rehab

Naturally, Jen was heartbroken at all that had happened to her, but she didn't let herself stay down for long. She was ready to take on whatever challenges lay ahead. Her surgery was scheduled on a Sunday, and she transferred to the rehabilitation center on Thursday, one of the fastest post-surgery patients that the staff at the hospital had seen.

jen goodwin quote 2Her first goal was just to raise her hand high enough to scratch her nose. Initially, she had no lower extremity movement and no control of her triceps, because of the level of her injury, but she kept that tenacious drive and continued working hard to meet challenges head on and eventually was able to achieve that first goal she had set for herself. "I just looked at it like, 'This is my chance, so I'm going to give it absolutely everything I've got every single day,' and because of that, I was able to get a lot stronger," says Jen. 

Although she was determined to push through therapy and work hard, it felt like a lot of the techniques and skills they were teaching her in rehab wouldn't be possible for her to master at first. After a lot of practice and determination to gain back some strength, she received validation that hard work and dedication to her goals made things possible when others might have thought it wasn't possible.

Altogether, she spent nearly two years total in rehabilitation therapy, including a controlled intensive therapy study at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta Georgia. She worked as hard as possible to reach her goals, and during that time, she also met some of her best friends. They affectionately dubbed themselves, "The Quad Squad," and they still meet up regularly for vacations and get-togethers.

Her ultimate goal was to learn to walk again, and finally, she was able to walk down and back again on the length of a basketball court. It took an hour and was achieved with the help of two therapists, a spinal electronic nerve stimulator (or e-stim), and a walker. This was a turning point for Jen in figuring out her next goals.

"I decided I could either learn to walk, or I could learn to live," she says of her decision to move on after focusing entirely on rehab for over two years. It was only because she gave her all and worked as hard as she could for so long that she felt able to let go of the old goals and focus on new ones.

Moving Forward

There were all kinds of new challenges to face during that early period of life after her injury. Once rehab was over, Jen had to put the skills she had learned into action and worked to develop new strategies for accomplishing basic, daily activities around the house, and even in getting around in the world, such as learning to drive again with the help of a modified car. She devoted nearly a year to designing and planning an accessible home to have built next to her parents' house, and another year was spent learning how to live in it on her own. 

One additional aspect Jen had to consider was learning how to self-cath. It can help to have a catheter supply provider with trained product specialists on staff who are willing to take time to listen to concerns and questions. She found 180 Medical through a spinal cord injury event and has been with us ever since. "I absolutely love 180 Medical. You guys sci connection facebook linkhave always been great about getting the supplies I need and letting me know about any new products that come out. I can always rely on you to get my supplies to me when I need them," says Jen.

Depending on the level of injury, some may not be able to manipulate a catheter on their own. Jen tried out a few different catheter options while using a gripping catheter clamp to better hold them, but when she tried out a newer option the Coloplast SpeediCath Compact Set, she knew she'd found the perfect fit for her needs. "It's so nice that they fit right in my purse. They're super discreet and ready to go, and I can actually grip them with my hands." Since Jen loves to travel, it's super handy to have an option for catheters that are lighter and take up way less space in her luggage too. 

It wasn't always easy. From the frightening night of her injury through years of hard work and dedication to physical and rehabilitation therapy, the journey to where she is now was long and challenging. Jen understands that things can seem bleak to those who have been recently injured, but after going through all she has, she encourages others to not lose sight of goals or give up. 

Thinking about what might come next was never far away from Jen's mind as she settled into daily life. There were a few big dreams that she had always wanted to accomplish that kept coming up in her mind, and she decided she wasn't going to let her spinal cord injury get in the way of achieving those dreams.

Check out this awesome video from Permobil Corporation to meet Jen in person as she talks a bit about her goals and her experiences with her wheelchair.




Find out all about the next chapter of Jen's life and the new goals she set for herself in Part 2 of our two-part series. 


jen goodwin part 2


About the Author:
Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for nearly 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.


The Importance of Seeing a Urologist

by billf March 22 2017 07:12
the importance of seeing a urologist

 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 talking to our customers on the phone who are new to self-catheterizing.

There are a lot of people who use intermittent catheters and mainly rely on their general practitioner for their checkups and healthcare needs. While this is perfectly fine, it may be a good idea to see a urologist annually for a more thorough checkup. Since urologists specialize in conditions relating to the entire urinary system as well as the male reproductive organs, they may be able to better pinpoint issues that your general practitioner might not catch.

What to Expect at an Annual Exam with a Urologist

Seeing a urologist may seem intimidating at first, but generally, an annual exam is fairly simple and could be potentially life-saving, depending on what symptoms you may be experiencing. There are various procedures that your urologist may use to check for any abnormalities or potential issues, including growths, infections, or stones.

Some tests or examinations that you may be able to expect, depending upon what the doctor thinks is necessary for your individual situation, may include:

  • A physical exam
  • A urine specimen
  • A cystoscopy (where the lower urinary tract is examined with a mini camera) 
  • Imaging studies (ultrasound or x-ray, most typically) 
  • Urodynamics
  • A tissue biopsy

Bladder Cancer and Other Factors to Consider

An annual exam is a wise idea for anyone using catheter supplies, but it's also important to see your doctor if there are any unusual or out-of-the-ordinary symptoms as soon as possible. Waiting on treating something as small as urinary tract infection may lead to the condition becoming a more serious issue.

Bladder irritation may increase the risk of bladder cancer, and this can be from various issues such as repeated UTIs (urinary tract infections) or bladder infections, use of a foley catheter, and bladder stones. There are higher rates of bladder cancer among tobacco users, so if you smoke or vape, this is also a great reason to get a regular check-up.

Additionally, if you are living with a neurogenic bladder or a SCI (spinal cord injury), you may want to consider the importance of checking for bladder cancer regularly too. The risk for this disease for those with SCIs is about "15 times higher than that of the general population" (New Mobility).

Since bladder cancer does not always have obvious symptoms, especially in the beginning stages, it's incredibly important to have a specialist like a urologist look over your bladder and urinary system in its entirety regularly so that any potential issues can be caught early.

Year-Round Maintenance of Your Urinary System's Health

As always, the best thing you can do for your bladder, kidneys, and the rest of your urinary system is to follow your healthcare professional's recommendations.

This may include such advice as:

  • Take any medications you have been prescribed as directed
  • Keep properly hydrated according to your individual needs
  • Continue regular check-ups with your urologist, especially in the case of any unusual or out-of-the-ordinary symptoms
  • Always use good hygiene when using intermittent catheters, such as practicing sterile use versus washing and reusing, washing your hands well, and using disinfecting wipes or swabs
  • Catheterize according to the schedule laid out by your doctor, which is typically going to be often enough to keep the urine volume inside your bladder under 10 ounces
  • Use adequate sterile, water-soluble lubrication when cathing to avoid make catheterization more comfortable
  • Consider using a hydrophilic catheter to further reduce irritation to the urethra and bladder, or a catheter with a gripper or sleeve to avoid touching the catheter directly, which can reduce the risk of infection

At 180 Medical, we not only provide top-quality intermittent catheter supplies; we also offer helpful, educational material whenever possible to make sure you have all the information you need, including instructions on how to self-cath. For more information about catheters that could be right for your needs, feel free to contact us. If you have any questions or seek medical advice, please be sure to consult with your healthcare professional. 

Disclaimer: Please note that this is intended to provide a general understanding of bladder health and the importance of seeing a doctor. It should not be used in place of a visit, call, or consultation with a physician or other professional healthcare provider.

References: 
'Surprising Link': Smoking and Bladder Cancer
What You Need to Know About Bladder Cancer and SCI

Related Posts:
top 5 tips for bladder health
 Top 5 Tips to Keep
Your Bladder Healthy
8 tips for adapting after a spinal cord injury
 8 Tips for Adapting After
a Spinal Cord Injury


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.

2016 180 Medical College Scholarship Recipients: Focus on Marina

by Jessica December 22 2016 12:38
Earlier in the year, we were finally able to announce the names of this year's 180 Medical College Scholarship recipients after much deliberation. It was difficult to narrow it down to only seven recipients, because there were so many deserving candidates with inspirational backstories and exciting goals, whether to be able to return to school after a long absence in hopes to renew a career path or just starting out as a college freshman with dreams of being able to help others with their future job. We are truly honored to be able to help these seven students get a little closer to their goals. 

We will continue to feature each one of our recipients on our blog, so sign up for our newsletter so you can get notified every time we publish a new blog. Previously, we have featured MacyJared, TiffanySpencerMaria, and Nicole. Today, meet the last of our 2016 recipients, Marina!

marina 180 medical college scholarship recipient 2016

Marina is no stranger to a challenge. She was born with a host of medical issues, including a neurogenic bladder and a chronic illness, and when she wasn't at the hospital or at home dealing with the setbacks of her condition, she also had to deal with some discrimination in school. But through it all, she has maintained a level of positive thinking and inner strength that is truly inspiring. She states, "I decided at a very early age that I would not let this setback define who I was, but rather who I will become."

In addition to working hard to keep a high GPA and maintaining her status on the Honor Roll, she also participates in extreme snowboarding, kickboxing, running, and volunteering however she can in her community. She is also always open to helping out a peer or another adolescent with advice and support before and after their surgeries. 

marina 180 medical 2016 college scholarship recipient snowboarding

Thanks to her experience, both of living with her conditions and in helping others, she feels she has discovered her core characteristics and her true ambitions -- to become a nurse. "In addition to a solid education, experience goes a long way towards creating our best and most compassionate nurses," Marina says, and we're sure that her experiences will lead her to be a truly great nurse! 

180 Medical is honored to offer an annual scholarship program to help those with spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, transverse myelitis, ostomies (ileostomy, urostomy, and/or colostomy), and/or a neurogenic bladder. We know paying for college isn't easy these days, and we also understand that there can often be extra financial difficulties for aspiring students who live with these conditions. That's why we created this program. To learn more about our annual College Scholarship, visit our Scholarship page

180 medical college scholarship application footer

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.

2016 180 Medical College Scholarship Recipients: Focus on Jared

by Jessica September 20 2016 20:58
Earlier this summer, we were proud to be able to announce the names of each of our 2016 College Scholarship recipients. This year, there were so many deserving candidates with inspirational backstories and exciting goals, whether to be able to return to school after a long absence in hopes to renew a career path or just starting out as a college freshman with dreams of being able to help others with their future job. We are honored to be able to help these seven students get a little closer to their goals. 

Throughout the following months, we will continue to feature each one of our recipients on our blog, so sign up for our newsletter so you can get notified every time we publish a new blog. Previously, we have featured Macy. This week, we are happy to feature Jared Grier, the second of our seven scholarship winners.

jared 180 medical college scholarship winner 2016
When Jared was just 19, he anticipated there might be many transitions in the course of life ahead, but one day brought a life-alteringjared and his frat brothers 180 medical college scholarship winner change he could have never expected after finishing up his first year of college. During a fun outing with friends at a local park, he climbed a tree, just as he had many times before, but when he tried to get down, he fell and landed on his neck, fracturing his C6 vertebrae and rendering him quadriplegic. Since that time, he has gone through some very difficult challenges such as multiple surgeries, rehabilitation, and continuing therapy. Once he was home, he says he "made it [his] goal to return to campus as fast as possible." 

His fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, has been a huge part of his life since entering college, and his brothers joined together with him to create a fundraising campaign, called the Grierstrong Movement, which was originally made to garner support for Jared by the organizations on his college campus. Now, Grierstrong continues to grow with aims to bring awareness to the community about spinal cord injuries and the impact they can have on people's lives.

As of the beginning of the fall semester, Jared is continuing forward with his education, unwilling to give up on his goals at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he plans to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering.

We are truly impressed by Jared's commitment to continue forward and turn a potentially devastating injury into a direction that helps positively impact others' lives. You can learn more about the Grierstrong Movement at grierstrong.com.

180 Medical is honored to offer an annual scholarship program to help those with spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, transverse myelitis, ostomies (ileostomy, urostomy, and/or colostomy), and/or a neurogenic bladder. We know paying for college isn't easy these days, and we also understand that there can often be extra financial difficulties for aspiring students who live with these conditions. That's why we created this program. To learn more about our annual College Scholarship, visit our Scholarship page

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

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.