Community Spotlight: Kimberley Rose

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on November 18, 2022 # Community Spotlight
Kimberley Rose considers social media to be a blessing for people who are living with spinal cord injuries.In 2009, Rose was only two weeks into her freshman year of college when she was injured in a car accident. The accident left her a quadriplegic with only minimal function in her hands.

At the time, social media had not taken off. “There was really nobody for me to look up to when I was injured,” says Rose. “I really struggled. I had to find it within.”

Rose went back to school in 2010, eventually graduating with a degree in biology from the University of Houston. From there, she continued her education and became a speech therapist.

“I needed to find a career that I could be successful in and that didn't require a lot of hands-on work,” she says. “I had no idea what speech therapy was, but I got really interested in it.”

Now 31, Rose lives in Houston and works with middle school and high school students, as well as with older people in a skilled nursing facility. Looking back, she thinks some of her drive and laser focus on her education helped to distract her from fully facing her injury.

“I was dealing with the loss of bladder control and bowel issues, and all of that was happening while I was trying to grow up and be a normal 20-something,” says Rose.

Rose was also trying to date and have a social life, but it was difficult, she says. “I thought if I wasn’t in this wheelchair, it wouldn’t be an issue. I still pushed through it, but a lot of it was just ignoring feelings and acting like everything was okay.”

Once she became active on social media, Rose noticed that there weren’t many Black people or people of color in general sharing positive stories of living with a spinal cord injury or of quadriplegics being independent. “One day, I started thinking to myself that I really wanted to share more of what was going on with me, about how I had gone to school and had a job,” she says.

Since her accident, Rose has gained some more function in one of her hands. She lives alone, though her mother and her boyfriend live nearby and help out. Several of her YouTube videos show how she manages to do everyday things like buttoning a shirt, zipping up her pants, or using a knife to cut food.

Kimberly Rose

“I've learned to adapt and use the function that I have in the way that I can,” she says. “If I can't fully use my hands, I'll use my teeth or ask for help with certain things. I have a video that’s just about different ways that I use my hands as a quadriplegic. I want to change the narrative. We have this one idea about quads, and I’m trying to show a different perspective.”

Often, Rose gets messages from her followers who also have spinal cord injuries.

“A quadriplegic Black girl like me messaged me,” recalls Rose. “She had graduated from college as an able-bodied person, and then she got hurt after graduation. She wanted to go to graduate school, but she was really scared and didn't know what that was going to look like for her.”

Rose gave this young woman her phone number so they could talk, and says she is now following her social media accounts. “I've seen her blossom so much. She’s sharing pictures of herself in a wheelchair, and she’s finishing graduate school soon,” says Rose. It’s just awesome to see her come into her own and accept the life that she has now, and be more confident. It makes me feel good.”

Ultimately, Rose would like to be a motivational speaker and share her story on a bigger platform, but in the meantime, she wants to keep sharing her experience on social media.

Rose thinks that just seeing one other person that looks like you who is being productive and who has a purpose in life can make a big difference. “I feel like a lot of people that have disabilities don't really know what it is they're here to do or what they can do,” she says.

“And sometimes, when you don't see that things are possible, you don't know that more exists for you, and it keeps you boxed in. I want people to know that there's more out there and to know that it’s possible.”

Christina Frank is a health and medical writer in Brooklyn, NY.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.