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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Wounded Warrior Cory Remsburg, Honored during State of the Union, Devotes 'Relentless Determination' to Recovery

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Arizona Chapter Plays Role in his Rehabilitation

By Nate Herpich

Army Ranger Cory Remsburg
First Lady Michelle Obama and the First Lady's other box guests applaud Army Ranger Cory Remsburg. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

During his State of the Union Address on January 28, President Barack Obama recognized the service of Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, a 30-year-old Army Ranger who experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during his tenth deployment in Afghanistan and is now living with paralysis. It was an injury that initially put him in a coma, but thanks in part to his relentless determination and spirit, Cory has made significant progress in his recovery.

"Even now," said the president, "Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he's learned to speak again and stand again and walk again, and he's working toward the day when he can serve his country again. 'My recovery has not been easy,' he says. 'Nothing in life that's worth anything is easy.'

"Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit."

Following the president's tribute to him, Cory stood in his space next to the First Lady, and gave a thumbs up to all gathered, inspiring a standing ovation that lasted more than a minute.

"The response for Cory took my breath away," his father Craig tells the Reeve Foundation. "And this was such an important moment for Cory. He decided that he wanted to be a part of the president's speech in order to give wounded warriors a face, and to remind people that we're still at war, and that Americans continue to come home injured. We can't forget this."

The Long Road to Recovery
Since being injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) on October 1, 2009, Cory has devoted himself to what his father calls "self-improvement." After three months spent in a coma, and three and a half years in various hospitals and facilities, he has returned home to Arizona, where he lives in a rented home about a mile from his parents.

His rehabilitation schedule lasts longer hours than many people devote to work. Every weekday morning, he gets up at six a.m. and takes a 25-mile van ride to his rehabilitation facility, where he spends four to six hours on physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Often, after dinner, he'll move to a workout room in the house, and work on bench press and curls, and other weight-lifting activities. Saturdays are an off day, and then on Sunday, when the weather is nice, he'll go out on his recumbent bicycle. "Cory's now up to 18 miles," says Craig.

Studies into severe traumatic brain injury have suggested that it's important to maximize rehabilitation during the first five years following the event, so Cory "refuses to miss out on a single second," explains dad. "Cory is driven by his tenacity and his determination to find independence in his life."

Reeve Foundation Chapter Plays Role in Cory's Recovery
When Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation partner the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association (AzSCIA) learned of Cory's story, they reached out to the Remsburgs to find out how they could be of help. The answer soon became clear.

With Craig and his wife working full-time jobs, figuring out Cory's transportation to and from rehabilitation fast became an issue. How to arrange for the proper vehicle for daily pickups, and also, how to pay for what would likely be a costly service?

Since May 2013, the AzSCIA has picked up Cory as part of their affordable accessible transportation program, which provides door-to-door service for those with mobility impairment and their families. Initially, the AzSCIA brought him home every weekday afternoon following his therapy, and recently, they began picking Cory up in the morning as well. The Reeve Foundation has twice awarded Quality of Life grants to fund this program.

On most days, driver Guillermo Zeledon has the pleasure of bringing Cory to and from his rehab sessions. "Cory is a very good guy, and outgoing. He likes to play around with me, speak Spanish, and his parents are always outside waiting for him when he gets home. It's a great family."

The AzSCIA offers a variety of transportation services through their program: day-to-day pickups, as well as for special events and groups. Typical vans, which are available for rent, are air conditioned, and can fit up to three power chairs and four able-bodied individuals, or four manual chairs and four able-bodied people.

Advocating for Fellow Wounded Warriors
According to his father, Cory is a "humble guy who doesn't love all the attention he's getting." But, he also sees an opportunity to advocate for fellow wounded warriors who may need help upon their return home to the United States. "Cory hopes to be able to pave the road for those who follow him," says Craig.

"Our family truly believes that we're the lucky ones, to still have Cory with us. And my son believes in giving back to others, and that this will be what defines him. He knows he's lucky to be alive, and he aims to show his appreciation by contributing as much as he can to society."

The Reeve Foundation Military and Veterans Program (MVP)
The Reeve Foundation recognizes the importance of supporting those who have served our country, and is hard at work identifying programs to best help our wounded veterans. Currently, Reeve's Military and Veterans Program (MVP), founded in 2006, dedicates a minimum of $50,000 annually to fund military and veteran focused nonprofit organizations. Groups that have received money through this program include the United States Olympic Committee, Operation Home Front, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Disabled Sports USA, among many others.

Recently, the Reeve Foundation's Paralysis Resource Center convened a new Military & Veteran Advisory Council with the goal of further defining and supporting the needs of this community.

Council Co-Chair and Reeve Foundation Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator James Howard is a fellow disabled veteran who met Cory at a Special Forces Care Coalition conference several years back.

"Seeing Cory on TV at the presidential address amazed me at how far he has come. I can't say that I was surprised, however, because he holds himself to another standard that most people don't understand.

"The sixth stanza of the Ranger creed best describes him, and the way he goes about his life: 'Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.'

"He is a true American hero, a great example for others, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to meet him."

ADAPTADAPT has long history of organizing in the disability community and using civil disobedience and similar non- violent direct action tactics to achieve its goals. In 1983, as a project of the Atlantis Community in Denver, ADAPT began its national campaign for lifts on buses and access to public transit for people with disabilities. ADAPT started as American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit. For seven years ADAPT blocked buses in cities across the US to demonstrate the need for access to public transit. Many went to jail for the right to ride.

Advancing Independence: Modernizing Medicare and MedicaidAIMMM works to modernize Medicare and Medicaid in a way that both programs work in a far more coordinated and explicit fashion to further the goals set out in the Americans with Disabilities Act: Assuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities of all ages

The ALS AssociationThe ALS Association symbolizes the hopes of people everywhere that Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis will one day be a disease of the past – relegated to historical status, studied in medical textbooks, conquered by the dedication of thousands who have worked ceaselessly to understand and eradicate this perplexing killer.

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Advocacy & Disability Rights (PDF)
Advocacy & Disability Rights (Spanish)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Aquatic Therapy (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Veterans Benefits (PDF)

Military & Veterans Programs (MVP)

Army Wounded Warrior-AW2Taking care of wounded warriors is an important part of the Army's mission. The U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) is the official Army program that serves severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans and their Families, wherever they are located, regardless of military status, for as long as it takes.

Air Force Wounded Warrior-AFW2The Air Force will take care of its Wounded Warriors. We will fully support the Office of the Secretary of Defense programs to keep highly skilled men and women on active duty. If this is not feasible, the Air Force will ensure Airmen receive enhanced assistance through the AFW2 program.

AMVETSAMVETS (or American Veterans) has a proud history of assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous programs that serve our country and its citizens. The helping hand that AMVETS extends to veterans and their families takes many forms.

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Fitness and Exercise (PDF)

Aquaticnet.comTherapists. Instructors. Managers. To all in the Aquatics industry. This is your single online clearinghouse of aquatic therapy and fitness information. Why re-create the (aquatic therapy) wheel? We are The Aquatic Therapy Command Center.

Angel Flight for VeteransVeterans Angel Flight (VAF) facilitates no-cost or reduced-rate patient travel services for needy veterans and their families.

Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA)The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is the leading national organization serving and representing individuals, families and professionals who are touched by a life-altering, often devastating, traumatic brain injury (TBI). Together with its network of more than 40 chartered state affiliates, as well as hundreds of local chapters and support groups across the country, the BIAA provides information, education and support to assist the 3.17 million Americans currently living with traumatic brain injury and their families.

Council for Disability RightsOn national,state, and local levels, the Council for Disability Rights advances the rights of people with disabilities. The Council promotes public policy and legislation, public awareness through education, and provides information and referral services.

Clinical Trials: Ambulation ProgramsList of ambulation programs currently seeking volunteers.

Clinical Trials: Locomotor (treadmill) TrainingList of trials involving locomotor (treadmill) training.

Computer Electronic Accomodations Program (CAP)The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) provides assistive technology and services to people with disabilities, Federal managers, supervisors, and IT professionals. CAP increases access to information and works to remove barriers to employment opportunities by eliminating the costs of assistive technology and accommodation solutions.

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)The mission of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is to serve active duty military, their dependents and veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) through state-of-the-art medical care, innovative clinical research initiatives and educational programs.

DisabilityRights.orgState-based advocacy programs. Click on the State you want.

Department of Veterans Affairs -- Benefits AdministrationCommitted to helping veterans get the services they have earned such as patient care and veteran's benefits.

DREDF Disability Rights Education and Defense FundFounded in 1979 by people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF) is a national law and policy center dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities through legislation, litigation, advocacy, technical assistance, and education and training of attorneys, advocates, persons with disabilities, and parents of children with disabilities.

Disabled American VeteransAn organization of disabled veterans focused on building better lives for disabled veterans and their families.

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain InjuryDCoE assesses, validates, oversees and facilitates prevention, resilience, identification, treatment, outreach, rehabilitation, and reintegration programs for psychological health and traumatic brain injury to ensure the Department of Defense meets the needs of the nation's military communities, warriors and families.

Defense & Veterans Pain Management InitiativeEstablished in 2003, the Defense & Veterans Pain Management Initiative (DVPMI) seeks to improve the management of pain in military and civilian medicine. Through clinical research efforts, it has become a model for effective integration of acute and chronic pain medicine.

Fisher HouseThe Fisher House™ program is a unique private-public partnership that supports America's military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Family Caregiver AllianceCaregiver Media Group is a leading provider of information, support and guidance for family and professional caregivers.

HelpHOPELiveHelpHOPELive has a 26-year record of success helping families address financial hardships arising from uninsured medical expenses related to transplantation (solid organ, bone marrow, stem cell or tissue) and catastrophic injury (spinal cord or traumatic brain).

Homes For Our TroopsTheir mission is to build specially adapted homes for severely disabled soldiers and their families.

High Hopes Head Injury ProgramThe High Hopes Head Injury Program was started in 1975, as a result of tough hard work and need of several families. This one-of-a-kind non-profit charitable organization was dedicated to the rehabilitation and retraining of their loved ones who had been devastated by traumatic head injuries.

Federal Recovery Coordinator ProgramThe program is designed to cut across bureaucratic lines and reach into the private sector as necessary to identify services needed for seriously wounded and ill service members, veterans and their families.

Homes for Wounded HeroesThis program assist veterans in adapting their homes for a disability that occurred serving in Iraq or Afghanistan at little or no cost for the veteran.

Fallen Patriot FundWas established to help families of U.S. military personnel who were killed or seriously injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Injured Marine Semper Fi FundProvides financial assistance and quality of life solutions to marines and sailors injured in combat, training, or with life threatening illness. Can help with associate expenses including purchasing of special equipment, adaptive vans or vehicles, and handicap home purchases and modification.

Model Systems Knowledge Translation CenterThe factsheets listed at the MSKTC were produced through a collaboration between the MSKTC and the SCI Model Systems. These materials undergo expert and consumer reviews to ensure they are up-to-date, evidence-based, and consumer-friendly.

Military One SourceMilitary OneSource is provided by the Department of Defense at no cost to active duty, Guard and Reserve (regardless of activation status) and their families. Military OneSource is there for military personnel and their families by phone or online.

Lokomat at Sister KennyLokomat® is a robot-assisted treadmill that supports a patient in an upright position while moving the legs through a normal walking pattern – even if a patient is unable to move his or her legs independently.

Lokomat Program at Rehabilitation Institute of ChicagoThe Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) provides robot-assisted walking therapy using the Lokomat® to help people improve their ability to walk after disability caused by brain and spinal cord injuries, stroke or neurological and orthopedic conditions.

Marine Wounded Warrior RegimentThe Wounded Warrior Regiment's mission is to provide and facilitate assistance to wounded/injured/ill Marines, Sailors attached to or in support of Marine units, and their family members throughout the phases of recovery.

National Family Caregiver Association (NFCA)The National Family Caregivers Association educates, supports, empowers and speaks up for the more than 65 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability or the frailties of old age. NFCA reaches across the boundaries of diagnoses, relationships and life stages to help transform family caregivers' lives by removing barriers to health and well being.

The National Stroke Foundation National Stroke Association is the only national organization in the United States that focuses 100% of its efforts on stroke. National Stroke Association achieves its mission to lower the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling community outreach programs, calling for continued improvement in the quality of stroke patient care, and educating both healthcare professionals and the general public about stroke.

National Rehabilitation Information Center for Independence (NARIC)NARIC offers a range of services, from quick information and referral to extensive database searches of the latest disability and rehabilitation research. They also offer a number of publications, including directories, guides and statistical reports.

The National MS SocietyThe National MS Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about MS now -- to move together toward a world free of multiple sclerosis. MS stops people from moving. We exist to make sure it doesn't.

National Association of Protection and Advocacy SystemsThe Protection and Advocacy (P&As) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAPs) comprise the nationwide network of congressionally mandated, legally based disability-rights agencies. The National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, Inc. (NAPAS) is the voluntary national membership association of the P&As and CAPs and it assumes leadership in promoting and strengthening the role and performance of its members in providing quality legally based advocacy services.

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.

Navy/Coast Guard Safe HarborNavy Safe Harbor is the Navy's lead organization for coordinating the non-medical care of wounded, ill, and injured Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and their families. Through proactive leadership, we provide a lifetime of individually tailored assistance designed to optimize the success of our Shipmates' recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration activities.

Navy/Coast Guard Safe HarborNavy Safe Harbor is the Navy's lead organization for coordinating the non-medical care of wounded, ill, and injured Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and their families. Through proactive leadership, we provide a lifetime of individually tailored assistance designed to optimize the success of our Shipmates' recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration activities.

The National Parkinson FoundationThe mission of the National Parkinson Foundation is to improve the quality of care for people with Parkinson’s disease through research, education and outreach.

National Alliance for CaregivingThe Alliance was created to conduct research, do policy analysis, develop national programs, increase public awareness of family care giving issues, work to strengthen state and local care giving coalitions, and represent the US care giving community internationally.

National Association of American Veterans (NAAV)The NAAV is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization incorporated in November 2005 to be a provider of health care information, emergency assistance and advocacy, counseling, housing coordination, and educational programs for all service members, with an emphasis on the severely wounded and single parent service members, military caregivers, veterans, and their families at risk of not returning to normalcy after serving in a war, and residing in underserved areas nationwide.

OEF/OIF ServicesOperation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)

Operation Helping HealProvides financial assistance to wounded service men and women returning from our current overseas military operations.

OPMWelcome to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Government-wide Veterans Employment Website. This website is a critical component of the Federal Government’s strategy for the recruitment and employment of Veterans.

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)Paralyzed Veterans of America works to maximize the quality of life for its members and all people with SCI/D as a leading advocate for health care, SCI/D research and education, veterans’ benefits and rights, accessibility and the removal of architectural barriers, sports programs, and disability rights.

Paralyzed Veterans of America, in support of The Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine, offers authoritative clinical practice guidelines for bladder management. Consumer guides are available to download.

RT 300 FES BikeRTI designs and markets innovative electrical stimulation ergometers to help people with a neurological impairment achieve their full potential.

Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN)The Reeve Foundation NRN is a perfect example of basic science being translated to the clinic and changing lives. Funded by the Reeve Foundation through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is a network of cutting-edge rehabilitation centers whose staffs have been trained in intensive activity-based treatments.

Rebuilding Together's Heroes at HomeHeroes at Homesm was launched by Rebuilding Together and Sears Holdings in May 2007. Heroes at Home strives to improve the lives of all low-income U.S. service members, veterans, and military families in need across America by making necessary repairs, improvements, and modifications to their homes.

Rebuilding Together's Veterans Housing InitiativeCreated to meet the growing needs of veterans from past and present wars. The initiative serves to fill the gaps in housing modifications and repair services that retired and active service men and women struggle to meet. Working in partnership with corporate sponsors, Rebuilding Together's Veterans Housing Initiative strives to provide safe and accessible housing for all low-income veterans.

Sprint AquaticsOver the years Rothhammer International, commonly referred to as Sprint Aquatics, has been designing and patenting products that continue to revolutionize the aquatic industry. As the current owner, Laurel Maas's primary goal for Sprint Rothhammer was and continues to be creating products that meet the needs of those who use the pool as a form of physical therapy, training, and recreation.

Soldiers AngelsProvides financial assistance to OEF OIF service members and veterans for financial assistance to pay mortgages and utilities.

State Respite CoalitionsThe Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project was established in 1969 with funding from the Federal government as part of our nation's earliest attempts to provide educational services to young children with disabilities.

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 Justice’s Americans with Disabilities ActHome page provides info and technical assistance with the ADA.

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).

US ARMYThe Office of the Chief of Public Affairs Media Relations Division is the primary link between the Army and the news media from around the world. The goal of the Media Relations Division is to increase public awareness and understanding of the Army missions as well as its Soldiers, family members, and civilian employees.

US NavyThe purpose of this website is to provide information and news about the United States Navy to the general public.

US Marine CorpsThis is an official Marine Corps website, and is provided as a public service by the Marine Corps Division of Public Affairs.

US Air ForceAF.mil is provided as a public service by the Office of the Secretary of Air Force (Public Affairs).

US Coast GuardFor over two centuries the U.S. Coast Guard has safeguarded our Nation’s maritime interests in the heartland, in the ports, at sea, and around the globe. We protect the maritime economy and the environment, we defend our maritime borders, and we save those in peril.

US Special Operations CommandTo provide SOF warriors and their families a model advocacy program in order to enhance their quality of life and strengthen the overall readiness of Special Operations.

VA Center LocatorGuide to the over 1300 VA centers in the US broken down by region.

The Wounded Warrior ProjectSeeks to assist those men and women of our armed forces who have been severely injured during the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world.

VetJobsVetJobs makes it easy for employers to reach and employ all the members of the military community. VetJobs defines the military community to include Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Department of Defense Civilians, Marine Corps, Merchant Marine, National Guard, Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Health Service, Reserves and their spouses and dependents.

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)Vietnam Veterans of America is the only national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families.

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.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship areencouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.