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Ryan Stays Active with a Spinal Cord Injury

Earlier in the fall of 2019, we announced the recipients of this year’s 180 Medical College Scholarship. As part of our annual tradition, we always enjoy celebrating each student and their achievements in the following months. So far, we have featured Ben and Lauren. This month, we’d love for you to get to know Ryan!


A Spinal Cord Injury Turns Ryan’s Life Upside Down

“Everybody has a time in their life when something happens that sparks a period of growth,” says Ryan. He feels that time in his life happened when he was only 12 years old. He was injured in a mountain biking accident at summer camp when he crashed headfirst into a tree.

Ryan was rushed to a nearby hospital for emergency surgery. When he woke up, he found out he was now paralyzed from the chest down due to a spinal cord injury at the T4 level. At first, he could barely move his arms and was totally unable to hold his head up. However, thanks to the hard work and compassion of his physicians and physical therapists, he slowly re-learned how to accomplish basic tasks. First, sitting up on the edge of his bed with the help of his therapist was a milestone. Next, he worked hard at transferring himself in and out of the wheelchair and relearning basic daily tasks.

I have gone from not being able to move or even dress myself to being very independent. I am able to do most things on my own and can even drive a car. My accident has shaped the person I am today.

ryan senior pic 2

Staying Active with a Spinal Cord Injury

After Ryan came home from rehabilitation therapy for his spinal cord injury, he made some big choices. “Most people who go through an experience like mine would give up hope. I was determined to not let that happen to me.”

He decided he was ready to get involved with adaptive sports. With a background of 7 years playing basketball, he chose wheelchair basketball as his first effort. He ended up loving it, and the experience taught him he didn’t need to give up on his passion for sports. Next, he joined the Varsity Tennis team in his junior and senior year, and he threw shotput and discus on his high school’s Track & Field team.

An experience at the No Barriers Summit in Park City, Utah, further encouraged him to try new things like rock climbing, fishing, and scuba diving. He says he came away from the experience with a new mindset of having “no barriers.”


A New Passion Leads to a Future Career for Ryan

Ryan looked for a way to spend some of his free time outside of sports and keeping up perfect attendance and grades that landed him on the High Honor Roll. He discovered a brand new passion for robotics when he joined his high school’s VEX Robotics team.

During his junior year, he became a team leader. One of his major accomplishments was building, programming, and driving a robot for the In the Zone competition, which won some big awards. “Robotics helped me fall in love with innovation and creativity,” Ryan says.

Today, Ryan is attending the Rochester Institute of Technology in the Robotics Electrical Engineering program. He hopes to learn even more complex programming styles and robotics designs with a plan of becoming a robotics engineer after graduating.

We’re positive that Ryan is going to change some lives with the innovative new skills he learns while at college. Plus, we’re absolutely honored to play a part in helping support his dreams.

ryan robotics team

About 180 Medical’s Scholarship Program

You can find out more about our annual scholarship award at We will begin accepting new scholarship applications on January 1st, 2020, which isn’t far away now!

Call Toll-Free (877) 688-2729

About the Author
Ryan Stays Active with a Spinal Cord Injury
Jessica is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she has been with the company for over 14 years now. She loves getting to be creative in her role and hearing from customers about the positive impact we've made on their lives.

Outside of work, you can find her hanging out with her husband and their dogs or browsing garden centers (where she will almost certainly buy another houseplant she doesn't really need).