Ted Talk: A love letter to realism in a time of grief

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 14, 2018 # Research

Reeve Foundation board members, Mark Pollock and Simone George, recently released their joint TED talk, recorded at the TED Conference in Vancouver in April.

Mark and Simone speak about how to resolve the tension between acceptance and hope, something they had to try and figure out in the aftermath of Mark’s catastrophic spinal cord injury. They talk about how their lives changed in an instant and navigate the way to raging river of grief to the next place. When Mark broke his back, Simone’s research became the start of their next adventure – to find and connect people around the world to fast-track a cure for paralysis.

I began to research why, after this period they call spinal shock, there's no recovery, there's no therapy, there's no cure, there's no hope. And the internet became this portal to a magical other world. I emailed scientists, and they broke through paywalls and sent me their medical journal and science journal articles directly. I read everything that "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve had achieved, after a fall from a horse left him paralyzed from the neck down and ventilated. Christopher had broken this 12-week spell; he had regained some movement and feeling years after his accident. He dreamed of a world of empty wheelchairs. And Christopher and the scientists he worked with fueled us with hope.- Simone George

Now the couple is catalysing collaborations to cure paralysis in our lifetime.

Look, I accept the wheelchair -- I mean, it's almost impossible not to. And we're sad, sometimes, for what we've lost. I accept that I, and other wheelchair users, can and do live fulfilling lives, despite the nerve pain and the spasms and the infections and the shortened life spans. And I accept that it is way more difficult for people who are paralyzed from the neck down. For those who rely on ventilators to breathe, and for those who don't have access to adequate, free health care. So, that is why we also hope for another life. A life where we have created a cure through collaboration. A cure that we are actively working to release from university labs around the world and share with everyone who needs it.- Mark Pollock

Watch the full TED talk here

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.