News & Events

Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance

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Statistics indicate that spinal cord injured patients are typically young adult males National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance: April 2009. Accessed November 2009 from As such a young and active population, many of these individuals frequently engaged in physical activities or were athletic prior to their injury. At Shepherd Center, patients are encouraged to start recreational activities as soon as they are emotionally and physically ready because participation reveals that these activities can still be enjoyed providing numerous physical and emotional benefits. Adaptive sports are particularly beneficial to individuals who identify themselves as athletes. The addition of this coach and new equipment supports our mission and is important to our organization because it will directly help individuals participate in the activities they enjoyed prior to their injury or explore new activities.
Participation in sports and recreation can have a profound impact on individuals with spinal cord injuries. This impact is exemplified best by Talbot Kennedy’s story. Talbot was an 18 year old high school cheerleader set to enter college on an athletic scholarship when he was injured practicing a trick jump on a trampoline. During his inpatient stay at Shepherd, he was introduced to wheelchair rugby and was hooked on the sport. Since his hometown does not offer rugby, he moved to Atlanta to join the Shepherd Smash rugby team and pursue his athletic endeavors. Through his hard work and participation in rugby, he now lives alone, drives, and takes care of himself, which are impressive accomplishments considering his first goal was simply to dress himself. Shepherd’s commitment to rebuild lives with hope, dignity, and independence was completed through his inpatient stay on the adolescent team and participation in sports.

In addition to achieving independence, participation in adaptive sports has been associated with the following benefits Molnar, G. Rehabilitative benefits of sports for the handicapped. Conn Med 45(9):574-7., Slater, D. Participation in recreation and sports for persons with spinal cord injury: review and recommendations. Neurorehabilitation 19(2):121-9.:
Physical improvements in strength, coordination, balance, endurance,
pulmonary function and weight control.
Reduced likelihood of medical complications such as skin breakdown,
pneumonia and muscle atrophy.
Reduced risk of many chronic diseases.
Increased life expectancy.
Greater levels of self esteem, self confidence, and self-efficacy.
Greater life satisfaction.
Reduced anxiety, depression and enhanced mood.
Greater likelihood of employment, with less absenteeism and enhanced
Greater level of reintegration back into the community and into an active and
productive life.

February 15, 2016 — 2:00am