Great.com Talks With...Alan T. Brown, Director of Public Impact

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on November 09, 2020 # ATBF

In 1988, two years into caring for a friend who sustained a spinal cord injury, Alan T. Brown experienced severe spinal trauma on holiday in Martinique, leaving him too with a spinal cord injury. As our director of public impact at the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Alan spoke to Great.com in the podcast series ‘Great.com Talks With about how the foundation’s dual-mission supports and advocates on behalf of millions of people living with paralysis.

In 1995, actor, director, and activist Christopher Reeve became paralyzed after being thrown from his horse during an equestrian competition. Shortly after Christopher sustained his injuries, he turned to the American Paralysis Association (APA). Four years later, the APA and Christopher’s foundation came together to create the Christopher Reeve Foundation, later becoming the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in 2006.

Through our Paralysis Resource Center, the foundation connects information specialists and over 450 mentors with those navigating paralysis. Alan tells us, “We get phone calls immediately when individuals get hurt, and we jump in to make sure that they understand how to navigate the system and understand what we can do to make their lives better.” One in every 50 people in the United States currently lives with paralysis - a disruption of spinal cord function affecting the body’s central nervous system. Diagnoses can include multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke, and traumatic brain injury.

Last year, our Quality of Life Grants Program granted nearly three million dollars to 130 nonprofits to purchase things from pool lifts to gaming chairs to improve the quality of life of those with paralysis.

On our research side, a large percentage of our funding is directed to neurological, stem cell, and technological research to find cures for paralysis. Technological advances are flourishing and particularly with the promise of epidural stimulators, a device that connects directly into one’s spinal cord, bypassing the injury and sending stimuli directly to the limbs.

Cure is just a four-letter word, says Alan, and as important as it is, we can’t forget about treatment and improving the quality of life of those with paralysis. Alan quoted the dictionary’s definition of paralysis as the state of health of stoppage, inactivity, or inability to act, which he imagines many people can relate with today due to the effects of Covid-19. Our foundation actively seeks to overcome these feelings with the diverse events, programs, and grants they offer. Collaborations with large organizations, such as the National Hockey League and Faded Spades sensitize the general public while supporting the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s ongoing mission.

Make sure to check out Alan’s interview with Emil Ekvardt on these podcast apps or Youtube.


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