Moving Forward: Curran Brown

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on September 02, 2020 # Moving Forward

By Curran Brown

Hey there! My name is Curran Brown, and I am 24 years old and from Decatur, Georgia. When I was six years old, my brother, mother, and I were involved in a head-on collision coming home from school. As a result, I sustained a spinal cord injury and am paralyzed from the waist down.Curran Brown

I believe that going through something traumatic like this at a young age allowed me to become more resilient. As a child, you are still learning how to go through life, while adults often have their lives planned out, and then suddenly, an injury changes everything.

So, for those of you with new spinal cord injuries, the “new normal” you are learning now, has been my normal for much of my life. As a child, my main struggle was always being the different one everywhere I went. Adults and children would stare at me. Everyone thought I was helpless, and people treated me differently because of my wheelchair. These experiences combined extremely hurt my self-confidence.

Early on after my injury, when I was trying to learn how to manage my bladder, bowels, and skin, and just trying to get around, I did feel helpless. But it was the last thing I wanted other people to know. One of the first things my mother told me after the diagnosis was: “Nothing is wrong with you. You are the same person as before. Now, you’re just sitting more. You can do whatever you want to do, and this piece of equipment (wheelchair) is not going to stop you!” At the time, this statement went in one ear and out the other. I thought: “She is my mom, so she has to say these things. She has no idea.”

I began to feel better about my new situation when I started to participate in adaptive sports and found my love for wheelchair basketball. I got to meet kids my age and adults completely independent and living their best life. By seeing others in my same position doing completely fine definitely changed my mindset. I began to get out more, set goals for myself, and try new things.

I can honestly say I have learned the most about what is possible in this “new normal” by just experiencing life and not being scared about what could happen. Everyone has their limitations, and mine may be more visible than others, but it’s the way you adapt and tackle your obstacles that determine your outcome. Just because things may not go as planned or may look different doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. You will be as successful as you think you will be.

In time, the more confident I felt about myself, the less I cared about what others thought or that people were staring at me. Instead of getting angry because someone is staring, maybe they want to talk to you and just don’t know how or they are staring because they think you are super cute! Either way, keep doing you. Nothing else matters.Curran playing basketball

As much as I hate letting this wheelchair define who I am, my accident and wheelchair basketball paved a way in my life. I began traveling the country at a young age, playing wheelchair basketball in more than 20 states. That experience helped me get a full-ride wheelchair basketball scholarship to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

If it weren’t for my accident, I probably would have never been introduced to the many jobs available in the rehabilitation field. After being a patient of physical, occupational, and recreational therapy, I knew I wanted to work in this field, helping people get back to life the way I was helped. Now, I work at Shepherd Center in Atlanta as part of the spinal cord injury peer support team. I work alongside therapists and nurses, teaching and demonstrating life post-injury to patients.

My main goal in life right now is to become an occupational therapist. Because I always love to travel and experience new things, I decided to start the next chapter of my life in Europe. I will be attending graduate school at Brunel University in London for occupational therapy. I expect to see challenges, and it’s not going to be easy, but with determination, I know I can do it. And hey, who doesn’t love a little challenge?! The feeling of accomplishing those challenging things makes it that much sweeter in the end. Even after 19 years, I still have my bad days where I feel down in the dumps, or maybe my bladder or bowels have a mind of their own, and I am having accidents everywhere. It’s OK to take a day or so to ugly cry and eat ice cream, but remember everything is temporary, and you have to keep moving forward!

This blog appears courtesy of Shepherd Center. Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation.