Gaining strength through the Trauma Survivors Network

Trauma Survivors Network Logo

Adjusting to life after a traumatic accident is challenging. From dealing with the wheelchair to creating interpersonal relationships, every aspect of life is affected by the new injury. Grieving and acceptance are also part of the process, but learning to survive in spite of the disability is one of the biggest results.

The Trauma Survivors Network (TSN), as part of the American Trauma Society, provides resources for those recovering from trauma. Through peer visitation and peer support groups, newly-injured people can talk with others who are going through similar situations. There is also a program called Family Class for caregivers to handle the many emotions of trauma.

Another program offered by TSN is called NextSteps. This class is based on the principles of the self-management approach, allowing the person with the disability to play the most important role in his or her recovery.

The online, six-week course of NextSteps begins Thursday, Sept. 3. To register and learn more about the free course, visit

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Gearing up for the Adaptive Recreation Weekend September 26-27

It’s almost time to get ready for the Adaptive Recreation Weekend hosted by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.

On Saturday, Sept. 26, an adaptive surfing clinic will be held from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Folly Beach County Park. Come out and enjoy a day in the sand and surf. The event is free, but pre-registration is required.

Continue the fun Sunday, Sept. 27 from noon until 5 p.m. at James Island County Park for the adaptive recreation expo! Vendors will be on hand along with opportunities to participate in archery, fishing, yoga and wall climbing.

Last year’s expo was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to all of the excitement this year. Hope to see you there!

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A Day in the Life of Alex Jackson

I was excited when the Longevity After Injury Project at MUSC wanted to feature me in a mini documentary about living with a spinal cord injury.

The group at MUSC focuses on promoting health, longevity and quality of life after spinal cord injury. Recently, the team followed me around to see some of the activities I do in a typical day.

Throughout the video, you will get to see how I drive my van with a joystick hand control system. My van gives me the freedom of mobility to be employed at SPAWAR, and my supervisor, Lonnie Cowart, has been supportive and ensures I have the accommodations I need at work.

I also help the Longevity After Injury Project with disseminating their research to consumer magazines and publications. Working with this team gives me an opportunity to help others who are also living with an injury.

Special thanks to Josh Acuna, Kristian Manley and the Longevity After Injury Project team for allowing me to share my story in this video.

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5-year-old Tyreik Gadsden adjusts to his new spinal cord injury

I had the opportunity to meet Tyreik Gadsden, the five-year-old boy who was caught in the crossfire of a shooting and became paralyzed from the waist down in May in Charleston, S.C. Tyreik returned last month from a rehabilitation hospital in North Carolina where he did exercises to strengthen his body and learned how to push himself in a wheelchair.

On Monday, City of Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen gave Tyreik a welcome home party at the police station where he received many gifts, including his own police uniform. Afterward, Tyreik and his family went to Brittlebank Park, which has a wheelchair accessible playground.

5-year-old Tyreik Gadsden with News 2's Carolyn Murray and Alex Jackson

5-year-old Tyreik Gadsden with News 2’s Carolyn Murray and Alex Jackson

It was fun watching Tyreik push himself up and down the ramps. I know as he gets stronger, he will be able to get out more often and participate in many activities.

While at the park, he was interviewed by Carolyn Murray from News 2. I will post that story on my blog once it airs.

Below are two video links about Tyreik. The first one is from the welcome home party at the police station and the second video is when he returned home from the rehabilitation facility.

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New CBS Show, The Inspectors, Features a Character with a Spinal Cord Injury

The Inspectors LogoThis fall, CBS will have a new show airing called The Inspectors. It is a crime drama about the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The show features a character named Preston who has a spinal cord injury. Bret Green, who does not have a disability in real life, plays Preston.

Preston is a college student and is interested in becoming a postal inspector like his mom. A couple of Preston’s friends help him out as they help to solve cases of postal fraud. The show will air Saturday mornings, beginning October 3 at 10:30 a.m., as part of the programming block for The CBS Dream Team, It’s Epic!

Throughout the season when Preston isn’t investigating fraud cases, you’ll see him working out with a personal trainer named David Cole, played by Gregory Gadsden. You might recognize Gregory Gadsden as the double amputee wounded warrior who played in the movie Battleship. David serves as a coach and mentor as Preston competes in wheelchair races. It was neat being on set as they filmed this episode.

I’m excited about this show because it’s being filmed in Charleston, S.C. I have been serving as a technical advisor for the show ensuring that the set and scripts are accurately portraying a person with a spinal cord injury. As the season gets closer, I’ll share more behind-the-scenes details.

Watch the sneak peek of the show below.

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How the ADA Helps Me

We’ve all heard the saying, “We work to live and we live to work.” I would not be able to work or live as independently as I do if it were not for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In the 25 years of the ADA, it has helped create opportunities for inclusion in the workforce, on the tennis court and beyond. For the average person, he or she may not realize how many accessibility features we encounter in a typical day.

Accessible Van Parking SignBy the time I get to work, I park in a handicapped accessible space. Once I’m parked, all of the doors leading to my office have automatic door openers. The restrooms and cafeteria are also easily accessible.

The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations like screen readers and voice-to-text software.  My only accommodation is a larger cubicle to maneuver my wheelchair.

Life would not be the same if it were all work and no play. So, when I’m not working, you can find me at one of my favorite restaurants. I always make sure the entrance is accessible and there are no barriers in the dining area. When the weather is nice, I like to be outdoors at accessible parks or attending sporting events.

This is just a glimpse of how the ADA helps me and others live fully. Without ADA, many people would not have the same opportunities. We have progressed in many ways, but there is still more to do to make our country more accessible.

How has the ADA helped you? Comment below.

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President Barack Obama Speaks on the Americans with Disabilities Act

President Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of disability rights activists to celebrate 25 years of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) at the White House Monday.

In his speech, President Obama recognized key people who helped enact the law, including Sen. Tom Harkin, Judy Heumann and President George H.W. Bush. Other disability rights leaders were in attendance who have helped remove barriers for people living with disabilities.

Because of the ADA, people with disabilities have access to public places like movie theaters, restaurants and ball parks. Individuals with disabilities also have better access to employment. Employers now understand that people with disabilities are just as capable as anyone else, and, through workplace accommodations, those with disabilities can complete their jobs even easier. President Obama also said Federal agencies have been mandated to increase the number of disabled employees within the workforce.

Please watch the President’s speech below.

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