English |Español | Chinese | Hindi | Vietnamese | Korean | Japanese |Tagalog | Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter YouTube Google+ LinkedIn Foursquare Pinterest Follow Reeve on Instagram


Have Faith in Yourself

Jared is a participant in the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network at Boston Medical Center.

Jared is a participant in the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network at Boston Medical Center.

By: Janelle LoBello

Name: Jared Coppola
Injury: C5
Mechanism of Injury: Football
Date of Injury: September 4, 2009

Living with a C5 spinal cord injury, Jared Coppola, age 19, says, "Right now, I'm just focused on getting stronger, so I can get back on my feet."

Injured in September 2009 during the first football scrimmage of his junior year, Coppola has persevered as a Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) patient at Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts four-days-a-week.

Step by step at the NRN
The NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) is a cooperative network of cutting-edge rehabilitation centers designed to provide and develop therapies to promote functional recovery and improve the health and quality of life of people living with paralysis.

Having been at the NRN since June 2010, Coppola has come a long way. "When I first started, I might have been able to stand, but wasn't able to take any steps by myself. Now I can do the six minute test, I walk 329 feet by myself with a walker in six minutes."

Coppola admits his arms and legs on the right side of his body are stronger than the left. "I can move my fingers and grip on right. With my left hand, I can move my fingers a little, but it's hard to grip something that's heavy. When I walk, my right leg is pretty much fine, after a couple of steps, my left leg starts to drag."

My brothers always have my back, and you're never alone, says Coppola pictured with his triplet brothers.

"My brothers always have my back, and you're never alone," says Coppola pictured with his triplet brothers.

Family support
Being a triplet of brothers, having an older brother, and younger sister, Coppola believes there are benefits to having a big family. "It's awesome. There is always someone around," he says. "My brothers always have my back, and you're never alone."

And speaking of never alone, one of Coppola's triplet brothers can relate. Brandon fractured his C5 vertebra just one year before him.

"He didn't have paralysis," explains Coppola of his brother's injury. "He came off the field with a stiff neck and sat on the bench. Mom said, ‘You're not playing. We're going to the hospital to see what's wrong.' They said it was fractured. But he didn't have surgery, no paralysis. He just had to wear a neck brace for a couple of months and can't play contact sports again."

Sporting a new sport
Coppola might not be playing football, but he has taken up a new sport -- quad rugby.

A freshman at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) studying in the business school, Coppola plays quad rugby through UNH's Northeast Passage, whose mission is to "create an environment where individuals with disabilities can enjoy recreation with the same freedom of choice, quality of life, and independence as their non-disabled peers."

Coppola believes to just have faith in yourself.

Coppola believes to just have faith in yourself.

Coppola, a New England Patriots and Texas Longhorns fan, says, "I didn't really think I'd have a lot of time to do rugby, so I didn't think I would play at first. I went to practice, tried it out, and liked it."

Advice to others
Still adjusting to college life, Coppola's routine of school, traveling to therapy, and living on his own has pushed him to go farther.

"The toughest part is the beginning, and getting over the fact that you're hurt," admits Coppola. "You just need to move on, and even though you're injured, good things can come out of it if you allow them to. Have faith in yourself that you can get better. Don't dwell on the fact that you've gotten hurt, or if you'll walk again, it will take a longer amount of time."

Learn more
Learn all about how the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network is developing and expanding access to activity-based therapies, resulting in improved health, quality of life, and function.

Tell us your story
Telling your story is one way to let anyone touched by paralysis know that they are not alone. We've created a place where you can share your journey for your benefit, and the benefit of others. Your story matters. Share it!

  • Donate
  • Join Team Reeve
  • Get Involved
  • Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center
  • Reeve Foundation Advocacy
Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders