Christopher Reeve was a talented actor, director, husband and father. He died ten years ago this week, almost ten years after suffering from a near-fatal riding accident that left him a quadriplegic. While he never walked again, he recovered far more quality of life than even the most optimistic of his doctors could have imagined. He fought tirelessly for progressive treatment of spinal cord injuries. He had faith that a solution would one day be found.
Now, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has news to share that is beyond exciting. Epidural stimulation has resulted in an “Unprecedented Breakthrough” for the paralysis community. Four young men who have been paralyzed for years achieved groundbreaking progress – moving their legs – as a result of epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord. New research published in the medical journal Brain documents the effectiveness of epidural stimulation as a therapy option for chronic motor complete spinal cord injuries. The study was funded in part by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
At the panel, we heard from Matthew Reeve, Christopher’s son and now on the Board of Directors of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. We then watched a video about their campaign, The Big Idea. There were heard from four exceptional young men who have achieved progress thought impossible. You can view the video in its entirety at www.reevebigidea.org. Below is a portion featuring Rob Summers, who was the first person to receive epidural stimulation.
Finally, we were honored to meet and hear from those four men. They were inspirational. We were incredibly moved by the entire experience.
Here are some words from Matthew Reeve. I hope you will read, visit the site, and share this amazing, wonderful news.
Earlier this year, we brought you the exciting news that as a result of epidural stimulation of the lower spinal cord, four young men, all classified with a chronic motor spinal cord injury, were able to move their legs and stand. This was an unprecedented, unparalleled, and unexpected achievement.
Even more surprisingly, these men also experienced significant improvements in autonomic functions, including bladder and bowel function, sexual control, and temperature regulation. This is a major breakthrough for millions of people living with paralysis and signals the start of a new era in research.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation just launched a new campaign titled The Big Idea, which will support the next phase of epidural stimulation research.
The goal of this initiative — the largest in our history — is to raise $15 million to accelerate this critical study.
This money will fund 36 new participants to further evaluate the efficacy of epidural stimulation in restoring autonomic functions and movement. From there, our goal is to expand the program to hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands of people living with SCI to dramatically change their lives.
This is a HUGE undertaking. And we need your help.
Here are three ways you can show your support and be a part of this revolutionary new step toward reversing some of the most life-threatening effects of paralysis:
1. Visit ReeveBigIdea.org and make a financial contribution. Just $36 to change 36 lives will make all the difference but any amount can go a long way.
2. Email your friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and anyone you can, to encourage them to show their support as well.
3. Rally for the Reeve Foundation by posting to Facebook or Twitter using #JoinReeve and linking to ReeveBigIdea.org — and let everyone know that you are investing in the future of SCI research.
On the 10th anniversary of my father’s passing, we have a chance to change the future of what it means to live with paralysis.
My father once said, “Nothing of any consequence happens unless people get behind an idea. It begins with an individual and they share the idea with more individuals…and eventually it becomes a movement.” This is our movement. This is our moment. Let’s make it happen.
Board of Directors
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation