You Are Not Alone
Greetings. Welcome to the Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers website. Today we are going to discuss the power of community – why it’s so important to connect with others who share your circumstances, and where to find support here in the Greater Los Angeles area.
First, let me introduce myself. I am Dr. Steve Heimberg. Yes, I am an attorney. Before I practiced law, however, I was a medical doctor. In either profession, now joined as one, I set out to help people deal with major disruptions in their health or lifestyle due to physical trauma, or perhaps through medical error.
Over the years I have come to know many members of the SCI community. I have been a supporter and advisor to key organizations in the LA area, including the Triumph Foundation and Ralph’s Riders (see links below). Clearly, those living with paralysis are the real experts. Here’s why community support is so important.
Spinal cord trauma is without a doubt one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person. In the blink of an eye it turns the world upside down and lands you – and your loved ones – in a frightening, foreign place. People I know who suddenly became part of this confusing new world tell me they were in a lonely, dark place after being injured. They moved on as best as they could and now most say they are doing pretty much what they would have been doing in any event. They work, they marry, they have families, they get stuck on the 405, just like the rest of us.
I asked some friends living with paralysis if there was one thing they know now that they wish they had known when they were first injured. Frequently, this is what people said: They wish they had been in touch sooner with other people who had been down the SCI road. My friends tell me that at first, they felt alone, isolated, and scared. Contact with their peers, those who have survived and who know the SCI world first hand, was the most helpful and honest way they were able to come to terms with their challenges and to move forward.
Fortunately, there are many ways to connect with the SCI community, especially in a networked world. I’d like to suggest a few Internet sites. First, a group of national resources:
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation offers a goldmine of information, including a full staff of information specialists, free publications and a national peer-to-peer program.
Facing Disability features interviews and video clips of dozens of people who’ve been through a spinal cord injury. Very honest and heartfelt advice here.
The National Library of Medicine offers a good overview of SCI.
More good information, this from the National Institutes of Health.
United Spinal Association/National Spinal Cord Injury Association offers resources and peer support.
The Paralyzed Veterans of America is, as you’d expect, all about serving the veteran population. But PVA is very much attuned to the needs of all persons with SCI. Lots of resources, publications, and support.
The Model Systems SCI Centers are federally funded hospitals with unique specialization in spinal cord injury medicine and care.
The Care/Cure Community features the most active message boards in the U.S. for the SCI community. Many categories, including “cure” research, medical equipment, health issues and caregiving.
New Mobility is a national magazine about active living for people who use wheelchairs. The editor and writers are mostly people with spinal cord injuries. Very good online information.
Now, more specifically to the Los Angeles area and SoCal, here are several ways to connect with the community of people living with spinal cord injury.
Here on the Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers site, we will provide resources and timely information about living with SCI in the SoCal area. We will have links to the key contacts.
Triumph Foundation is a sort of social club for people with spinal cord injury, offers a peer-to-peer program, recreation and social activities, and lots of local connections from Santa Barbara to the Inland Empire, all across the LA metro area, and including San Diego.
KnowBarriers is a peer-to-peer mentoring program from Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Hospital.
Ralph's Riders is a nonprofit that offers peer and career mentorship, resource information, scholarships, grants, and a supporting network within the SCI community.
Pushrim is a social network and support resource for friends, family, and survivors of spinal cord injury.
The Hub is the voice of the Southern California SCI and wheelchair community. It’s a colorful magazine, a resourceful website and a helpful community of readers on social media.