I enjoy speaking to physical and occupational therapy students at the Medical University of South Carolina about my life and living with a spinal cord injury. During early summer, their curriculum focuses on paralysis and spinal cord injury. The instructors at MUSC invite people with disabilities to speak to the classes to show how we’ve learned to adapt to our injuries.
It’s as much of a learning experience for me as it is for the students. I participated in the tenodesis lab with the occupational therapy students. Tenodesis is the term for the type of grasps that people with spinal cord injuries use to pick up objects. People with spinal cord injuries use their thumb and index finger along with wrist extension to grab items. I’ve been using the tenodesis grip for as long as I can remember, but didn’t know there was a specific name for it.
The OTs also gave me ideas to better secure my tennis racket to my hand. I was able to use Velcro to make a figure eight pattern around the racket handle and my hand. I demonstrated my new grip at the All Sports Day last week. All Sports Day is a chance for the PTs and OTs to come together to see a variety of wheelchair sports including tennis, basketball and racing. The students get the opportunity to play each sport from a wheelchair. The students appreciate seeing how much effort is required to participate in recreational activities from the wheelchair. In a few weeks, I’ll be demonstrating power chair driving techniques with the PTstudents.
After spending time with people who live with disabilities, these future practitioners have a better understanding how to work with their patients. It’s rewarding to know that they are leaning from us and we are learning from them.