Sunday, January 22, 2012

Facing Disability: A New Way to Connect After a Spinal Cord Injury

This is a guest post written by Annie Hambleton of Facing Disability.  This is our first guest post, and we are so happy to partner with Facing Disability!  It's a great resource for SCI families, and anyone who just has questions about how a spinal cord injury affects a person, and how they and their families manage moving on.  

When a spinal cord injury occurs, it impacts the entire family. It seems like no understands their new situation in a way to help them deal with their lives ahead. That’s why the Hill Foundation of Chicago created the new website,, to connect families facing spinal cord injuries with others who have been there before them. has more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of over 100 people with spinal cord injuries, and their mothers, fathers, siblings, children and caregivers. Every person was asked the same 48 questions, such as “What was your greatest fear at first?” and “What do you wish you had known at the beginning?” It is the only place on the Internet where you can see and hear the voices of experience.

Michelle, who became quadriplegic at 21 said, “I wish I would have automatically had known that I was always going to be myself. I don't know what I thought the wheels were dramatically going to do to me, but I wish that I would have known that the things I enjoyed before, and the way I was before, was all going to be the same. I would just have to go about things in a different way.”

Jennifer, who was a teenager when her mother became quadriplegic at 42, said, “I wish I had known that this was actually going to be a better thing for her, that this really was a window opening and not a door closing for her. Even though there are periods of time when it's really hard, her life is so much better, all of our lives are so much better. The time we spend together is more special now, and we make more of a point to do things together…she's so active in so many of the things that she does, and I wish that I had known that her life was going to be better as a result of all of it.”

If you’d like to hear from someone like you, FacingDisability videos are arranged by relation to injury as well as by question. You can watch individuals with SCI, parents, spouses, sibling and children, and refine your search by level of injury (paraplegic or quadriplegic), gender of person injured and age at injury. Follow this link to see all of the FacingDisability questions and answers on living with paralysis.
There is also an “Expert” video section made up of over 200 videos from interviews with top spinal cord injury experts. Here you can find professional answers on topics most people want to know about right away, such as “Spinal Cord Injury 101,” “Transition from Hospital to Home” and “Sex and Fertility after a SCI.”

Connecting with someone who has “been there” is one of the best ways to deal with a new injury. FacingDisability has a “Peer Counseling” service, made for people who want to connect one-to-one through an anonymous email system. There is also a “Forum” section where you can ask questions, or share answers.

Finally, has over 300 of the best resource on the Internet in the “Resources” section. was established by the Hill Foundation of Chicago. Their mission is to provide Internet-based information and support for people with spinal cord injuries and the members of their families. Connecting with the life experiences of others who have been there before often helps people find the strength and support to face their new lives ahead. For more information, contact FacingDisability at

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