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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Time to Wheelchair Bungee Jump!

Brad Burns right before going over the edge

Brad right before
going over the edge.

By: Brad Burns

Well I suppose I should tell you why I decided to fly across the country, then leave the country, all so someone could harness me up and throw me off a 160 foot bridge. Three years ago I woke up after being in a car accident. After they told me I had a c-5 burst fracture, broke all the ribs on my right side, fractured pelvis, lacerated lungs, and that maybe in six months I could breathe on my own again it gets you thinking.

Of course I have lots of physical goals, and I have been so fortunate to meet all of them so far. With amazing support from my family and help from amazing therapists I've been able to regain my independence and walk with a walker. I even walked a 5k in Louisville for Team Reeve which was an amazing feeling to accomplish that. (Really proud of that one had to throw that in there. Don't tell anyone I was sore for two weeks after haha.) But this has nothing to do with walking, but living a life without limitations.


Read more about Brad:



Anyone with a SCI realizes pretty quickly it's not just the physical aspect that's hard to deal with but the mental aspects as well. I always wanted to travel, see the world and experience different cultures and places.

Well it's been 3 years since my injury and I decided it's time to do that. I always wanted to bungee jump. Unfortunately I had trouble finding a place to do that till I found this place in Whistler, Canada. So I decided it's time for me to take my first trip on my own. I contacted my friend in Portland, Oregon and told him I was going to fly out and see him for a few days, and oh yeah, we're going to go jump off a bridge in Canada. He thought I was crazy, but the thought of seeing me thrown off a bridge got the better of him and he was game. What are friends for right!

I should mention this was my first time flying, ever. I was so nervous the night before I barely slept. Wondering what it would be like, would all my stuff make it, am I really flying all the way across the country by myself for the first time. Nothing like some fear to let you know you're alive.

Brad Burns being thrown off a 160 foot bridge with a bungee cord

Brad being thrown off
a 160 foot bridge.

So the next day I hopped on a plane from Ohio to Oregon with a layover in Texas. Flying was an experience, and overall a good one. Some planes I could walk onto, grabbing seat to seat to walk down the skinny aisle ways, and some I used the aisle chair. I kept an open mind and a positive attitude, and I've learned as long as you do that people are receptive and helpful so I had a good experience flying. I even had a couple flights bumped up to first class for free! I'm sure that didn't hurt my experience at all haha. Even the wheelchair escorts between flights to different terminals were great. Basically I was on five airplanes in seven days. If you're going to do something do it right I guess.

So at the end my stay in Oregon we flew to Vancouver, I rented a car, and took the drive into Whistler. I must say B.C. was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. When we got to Whistler and we're driving down this back road to the bridge, I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment that I was there.

I hadn't made the jump yet, but just having made the trip, following through on something, it was a good feeling driving up to that bridge. Then I saw the bridge and thought what was I thinking!

There is a dirt road that takes you almost all the way up to the top. The rest of the way I hopped in my chair and needed just a little help to get onto the bridge. So there they harness you like anyone else, then attach the wheelchair to you. After the guy harnessing me looks at me and says, "I hope that works, eh" my confidence was at an all-time high haha. Seriously though he told me he gets some people in chairs out there every year so I wasn't worried. Sort of, I mean I am getting thrown off a bridge.

So the time comes and it's my turn, I wheel myself over to the edge of the railing. The railing is about 4 feet high so you can't really see over it. Then they asked me if I was ready and began to pick up my wheelchair.

Brad Burns hanging over the side of a bridge

Brad hanging over
the side of a bridge.

In the span of about half a second I'm up and on the railing and looking over this bridge and at the rushing water 160 feet below me. At that moment of realization that you're staring over the edge of a 160 foot bridge, you are already plummeting in a free fall towards the river.

It is such a rush and before you know it the bungee cord catches you and hurls you back in the air and you do it again. When you stop bouncing they lower a rope down, you attach it to your harness and they raise you back up. This is the point where I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't have to tell all my therapists I hurt myself because I jumped off a bridge haha.

The next day we drove back to Vancouver, my buddy flew back to Oregon and I flew back home to Ohio. I was exhausted, happy to be home, and felt very accomplished. This was a great trip for me and the start of many more to come.

That first time doing anything is always the most special. Whether it's your first time driving again, first class, first time anything. It's hard to explain that "first" feeling but I know a lot of you reading this understand what I'm talking about. And if you don't it's about time you discovered it.

Our biggest limitations in life aren't physical, but mental. I know I let go of some limitations at the bottom of that bridge in Canada, and I know bungee jumping isn't everyone's cup of tea, but whatever it is I encourage you to go for it.

And if you're crazy like me, well, now you know a great place to get thrown off a bridge!


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American Horticultural Therapy AssociationHorticultural therapy (HT) is not only an emerging profession, it is a time-proven practice. The therapeutic benefits of peaceful garden environments have been understood since ancient times. In the 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and considered to be the "Father of American Psychiatry," reported that garden settings held curative effects for people with mental illness.

Dowling Community Garden: Building Accessible Raised-Bed GardensFunding for the wheelchair accessible beds was provided by the Longfellow Community Council Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP). NRP funds paid for the materials and all labor was provided by Dowling gardeners. If you are a wheelchair gardener or know a wheelchair gardener who would be interested in gardening at Dowling, please call the Dowling Community Garden voice mail at (651) 255-6607.

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Wheelchair and Equipment Donations (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Adjustment to SCI (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Aging with SCI (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Gardening for People with Disabilities (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Hunting for People with Disabilities (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Autobiogs or Biogs (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Chat Rooms (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Research (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Tutorial 101 (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on SCI Videos (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Deep Vein Thrombosis (PDF)

Arkansas Spinal Cord CommissionThe mission of the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission is to administer a statewide program to identify and meet the unique and lifelong needs of people with spinal cord disabilities in the state.

Assistive Technology (AT) Resources: Proper fit of a wheelchairThe National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) has compiled a list of various Assistive Technology (AT) resource agencies around the nation, including resources on driver education, independent living, state agencies, mobility equipment and more.

Aquila Wheelchair CushionsThe Aquila Corporation offers a line of alternating pressure wheelchair cushions along with a two-zone static manual inflate cushion. These cushions are designed to meet pressure relief needs thereby helping to prevent pressure sores from developing down the road.

BrunoBruno Independent Living Aids has become known for its: power chairs, scooters, high quality stair lifts and Turning Automotive Seating.

Challenged AmericaThe Challenged America program is dedicated to introduce sailing as a therapeutic and rehabilitative enhancing activity to individuals with disabilities, their loved ones, and professionals in healthcare and rehabilitation.

CareCure CommunityCareCure Community features a SpinalNurse bulletin board with informed comments on matters of the bowel, and all issues of paralysis.

Canadian & American Spinal Research OrganizationPromotes and supports funding research to ultimately find a cure for paralysis. Also publishes journal of latest research they fund. Call (800) 361-4004 or use the link above.

Canadian Paraplegic AssociationAssists people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities to achieve individuality, self-reliance and full community participation. Call (613) 723-1033 or use the link above.

ColoursFor people who like to think outside the box, check out the chairs put out by Colours In Motion.

Craig HospitalWith funding from the US Department of Education's National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research, has developed educational materials to help people with spinal cord injuries live in the community maintain their health. Topics include skin care, exercise, heart disease, weight control, alcohol abuse and conditions related to the aging body. Use the link above and click on SCI Health and Wellness.

e.motionA standard manual wheelchair can get extra help with special rims containing small yet powerful motors.

Determined 2 HealProvides helpful information for the newly spinal cord injured.

eHow: How to Make a Wheelchair/Scooter Accessible Raised Garden BedHow to build an accessible raised bed garden from inexpensive, easily obtained materials. This is a thoughtful, enriching and enabling gift for the elderly, disabled and arthritic individuals.

E Nasco: CelluGro™ Wheelchair Accessible Green Thumb Therapy GardenDesigned by a horticultural therapist, this makes it possible for anyone who may not be able to do traditional gardening to be active gardeners.

Frog LegsFrog Legs Inc. makes a product that makes mobility a much smoother experience. A flexible hinge allows the castor wheels on wheelchairs to move more easily over bumps and obstacles thereby reducing the impact normally felt by the person seated. Think of them as shock absorbers for your wheelchair.

Flaghouse: Gardening ProductsTo enhance the quality of life for all people, with resources for physical activity, recreation, therapy, and the development and support of life skills.

Friends Hospital: Adaptive Gardening to Meet Your Changing NeedsGardening is one of our most popular national pastimes. Horticulture can be enjoyed by almost everyone, whether young or old, weak or strong, able-bodied or handicapped. Gardening can be a vigorous activity or a sedentary one. As you grow older or your physical abilities change, there is no need for you to stop gardening. Gardens and tools may be modified to help ease stress and strain and allow you to continue to participate in one of the best leisure activities.

Gardener's Supply Co.Disability Opens New Doors for a Lifelong Gardener .

Infinitec: Enabling Gardens This section demonstrates accessible ways to garden, but please consult general gardening resources for help with soil preparation, planting, fertilizing, mulching, pruning, etc.

FacingDisability.comFacing Disability is a web resource with more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of people with spinal cord injuries, their families, caregivers and experts. I know that this is a lot to ask, but we'd be so grateful for your help. I'm looking forward to discussing this link with you, and to answering any questions you may have.

Model Systems CentersA federally funded program of 14 specialty medical and/or rehabilitation centers across the US. The SCI Care System collects and submits acute, rehabilitation and follow-up (annual, long-term post-discharge) data on SCI patients who received care in the these centers following injury.

The Miami Project to Cure ParalysisThe Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has studied functional electrical systems for exercise.

The Jay CushionSunrise Medical produces a cushion for wheelchairs called The Jay which is filled with a slow-flowing gel. The Jay addresses posture, skin and functional needs.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC)NSCISC supervises and directs the collection, management and analysis of the world's largest spinal cord injury database. Headquartered at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA)At NSCIA, we educate and empower survivors of spinal cord injury and disease to achieve and maintain the highest levels of independence, health and personal fulfillment. We fulfill this mission by providing an innovative Peer Support Network and by raising awareness about spinal cord injury and disease through education.

New York Online Access to Health (N.O.A.H)Offers information and links related to spinal cord and head injury treatment, rehabilitation, and children. Materials in Spanish.

Neuroscience for KidsOffers an understandable look at the segments of the spinal cord; from University of Washington.

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA): Spinal Cord InjuryFor more detailed information on the clinical practice guidelines on respiratory management with spinal cord injury you can request booklets from the Paralyzed Veterans of America. These booklets also provide guidelines on proper weaning from a ventilator.

PermobilPermobil produces chairs ideal for those requiring the flexibility to constantly change positions. Technology and comfort combine to allow for active sitting.

Pride MobilityFor tight and precise control, Pride Mobility Products Corporation makes the very popular Jazzy Power Chairs.

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago: Wheelchair Seating & PositioningHaving mobility is an important factor in being able to lead a productive and fulfilling life. If an individual is unable to walk, an appropriate mobility base and seating system are imperative to enhance the ability to interact and perform functional skills.

ROHOThe ROHO is a brand of cushion seats designed for protection and comfort. Each cushion is based on a support system of evenly distributed air.

The Spinal Cord Injury Information Network: Wheelchairs & SeatingInformation on seating and positioning.

SpineUniverseAt SpineUniverse our goal is to help patients and their families understand their back or neck problems. In clear, straightforward language we aim to explain what causes spinal problems and how they can be treated. We are committed to ensure that all of the information we present is trustworthy and of the highest quality.

Spinal Cord Injury Information NetworkThe Spinal Cord Injury Information Center features clinical information about bowel management and all other medical issues of paralysis.

Spinlife.comOnline durable medical equipment (including wheelchairs and cushions).

SportaidOnline catalog for durable medical equipment.

TiLiteTitanium wheelchairs; lightweight and strong.

UCP Wheels for HumanityA non-profit organization that refurbishes donated wheelchairs and hand fits them to children and adults with disabilities in developing nations.

United Spinal AssociationOur mission is to improve the quality of life of all Americans living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and post polio.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet: VA and Spinal Cord InjuryOf the more than 250,000 Americans with serious spinal cord injuries and disorders, about 42,000 are veterans eligible for medical care and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Wheelchairjunkie.comA resourceful and opinionated website owned and operated by self-described "power chair gonzo" Mark E. Smith, who also designs power chairs for Pride Mobility Products. Says Smith, "WheelchairJunkie.com is about mobility, not manufacturers, so the voices expressed here represent only users."

WheelchairNetA federally funded virtual community for people who have an interest in wheelchair technology.

Wheelchair FoundationOver 100 million of the world's citizens today are deprived of mobility because of warfare, disease, disaster or advanced age. The wheelchairs they need simply to get across the street - or across the room - are out of reach. The Wheelchair Foundation believes that these people deserve the independence and dignity that comes with owning a wheelchair, regardless of their nationality. This is a nonprofit organization leading an international effort to deliver a wheelchair to every man, woman and child in the world who needs one. For those individuals, the Wheelchair Foundation offers freedom, self-reliance, mobility and hope.

Whirlwind Wheelchair InternationalWhirlwind Wheelchair International (WWI) is the communications hub of the Whirlwind Wheelchair Network of independent wheelchair-producing workshops in developing countries. Founded in 1989 as the Wheeled Mobility Center (WMC), WWI's primary mission is 1) to teach wheelchair riders in developing countries to design, build, and repair their own wheelchairs; 2) to enable rider/builders to create businesses for the manufacture and distribution of wheelchairs to others; and 3) to foster the ever-widening Whirlwind Network of rider/builders around the world who exchange ideas for the continuous improvement of wheelchair design.

World Wide Wheelchairs & Used Medical EquipmentScott Dier began this company in July 1998. He wanted to sell a hearing aid on the Internet. Then people started asking about wheelchairs and other medical equipment! Mr. Dier then proceeded to look for equipment around North America and found many items available. World Wide Wheelchairs exploded into a company that was needed throughout the world! They have sent medical equipment and wheelchairs to India, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, England, Brazil and all over the U.S. and the U.S. Military.

Wheelchair AccessoriesClick on this link to see how you can accessorize your chair or scooter and improve matters. Backpacks, cupholders, trays, canopies and umbrellas are just a few examples.

Paralysis Resource Center The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

Reeve Foundation Online Paralysis Community Connecting people living with paralysis, families, friends and caregivers so we can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope.

Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.

Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

The information provided in the Paralysis Resource Center was supported by Cooperative Agreement number 1U59DD000838-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Reeve Foundation and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.