Peer & Family Support Spotlight: ​Mason Ellis

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on June 06, 2022 # Peer & Family Support Program Spotlight

MasonMason Ellis is a bit unique among the Reeve Foundation Peer & Family Support Program mentors. Since joining the program in 2018, he has spoken with 20 or so peers — yet through his YouTube videos, he has reached tens of thousands more.

“I started making videos for myself,” says Ellis. “I used the videos to try to answer the questions I had. When I was injured, I didn’t have a mentor. I had to teach myself, and it took a lot of trial and error and a lot of research.”

Ellis sustained a C5 level complete spinal cord injury from a January 2015 car accident during his senior year of high school. He was thrown over 96 feet from his vehicle and had more than a dozen fractured bones, yet he remained determined and graduated with his class.

“Like so many others, I had to learn a new life,” says Ellis. “For me, videos are better than reading. Many of the videos I was seeing online at the time were outdated and not very informative.”

Over the years, he has created over 185 videos and gained over 6,000 subscribers. His 5- to 10-minute videos focus on how-tos, tips and tricks, and general spinal cord injury information. Videos range from how to get dressed independently to explaining tenodesis, a function used to facilitate grasp in people with tetraplegia who have wrist extension against gravity but no active finger function.

“My tenodesis video explains what it is and how it is used to pick up items. It is my most popular video with almost 60,000 views and 200 comments,” says Ellis. “Some of the comments are from college medical students and professors who use the video in their class.”

MasonEllis has also heard from physical therapists who use his exercise videos, occupational therapists who use his videos about things like brushing teeth and driving, and rehab centers who share his videos with newly injured patients. All told, his videos have over 720,000 lifetime views and over 27,000 hours of watch time.

“I’ve learned I have a knack for explaining things well and making a topic clear to others,” says Ellis, who also does product reviews for wheelchairs, adaptive equipment, and medical equipment that he finds useful.

Ellis first learned about the Reeve Foundation when he received a copy of the Paralysis Resource Guide in the hospital.

“When I first became a mentor, I would tell the person about myself and ask about them, but it was sometimes hard to connect on the phone,” says Ellis. “Now, I start with an email. I introduce myself and share how I get through difficult times. I also include a link to my videos and other helpful resources, so even if they don’t respond, I know I am giving them good information.”

Ellis has remained in contact with one peer for several years via email. The therapists in the rehab hospital he attended also connect him with people they think could use his support.

“I try to give people as much information as I can think of,” says Ellis. “With my experience, I want to try to provide a jumpstart for those newly injured, so the learning curve is a lot less than it was for me. Talking to others makes me realize how much I didn’t know back then and how far I’ve come myself. I didn’t know how much I needed to know.”

He encourages anyone who is hesitant about getting a mentor to give it a try. He is impressed with how well the Reeve Foundation matches peers with mentors who have similar injuries and interests.

“I wish I would have had a mentor when I was newly injured to improve the learning curve and prevent many failures,” says Ellis. “Sometimes I failed 30 times to try to figure something out. So much trial and error to discover the best way to do things could have been avoided.”

Ellis believes an injured person is often the best source for how-to information over a doctor or nurse who has not had direct experience with an injury. In addition to getting a mentor, Ellis also encourages others to join spinal cord injury groups on social media.

“I don’t want people to miss out on the opportunity to have a full and independent life,” says Ellis, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in information technology next spring. “Through my videos and mentoring, I hope to help and inspire others to live just like they would’ve able-bodied.”

You can request a Peer & Family Support Program mentor 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.