Spinal Cord Injury Scholars Fund
Notes from the Founder
Just months after I turned 15, I dove off a boat in Florida. In a split second I had fractured my C6 vertebra, and was paralyzed from the chest down. I quickly realized this would mean an enormous change in how I lived my life.
One of the biggest impacts my injury had on my life, especially my education, was my loss of my ability to use my hands. While this presented a major problem for a while, the therapists during my rehab at Craig Hospital helped me to find the technology I needed to continue my studies. Thanks to this I was not only able to continue almost all my classes during rehab to stay on track with my graduation date, but I have been able to maintain the same 4.0 GPA I held before. I know this would not have been possible without adaptive technology. Up to this point school had been one of the most important parts of my life. I have maintained my longstanding goal of attending medical school after college, and I know education is how I will get there.
At the same time, I recognized that there are so many people unable to afford the technology they needed to continue school. I also realized that this circumstance is entirely preventable, and I believe that cost should not be the determining factor in anyone’s ability to fulfil their potential. Learning how difficult it can be to return to school after a spinal cord injury, and consequentially how few people do so, drove me to create this fund. I hope to help those facing barriers return to school, because I couldn’t imagine my life without it. Having experienced the life-changing powers of this technology firsthand, I know that putting it in the hands of those who need it will help them achieve their potential.
Sincerely, Austin Brotman
About the Fund
The mission of the SCI Scholars Fund is to provide students who have suffered spinal cord injuries with the technology necessary to continue their education and reach their full potential. Specifically, the fund was designed to serve those who have suffered paralysis from spinal cord injury, limiting their ability to access traditional tools to complete their studies. In cases such as this, adaptive technology is often used to bridge the gap between student and studies. However, in the wake of such a devastating accident, costs and lack of access to this useful technology can prevent people from returning to their education. Thus, the purpose of the SCI Scholars Fund revolves around removing these obstacles and providing easier access to education. Most importantly, the SCI Scholars Fund was born of the belief that education is the key to a better life.
The SCI Scholars Fund operates through the nonprofit Craig Hospital Foundation in order to ensure the best allocation of funds. For example, the staff at Craig Hospital are able to cooperate to identify those patients who could most benefit from aid from the SCI Scholars Fund. Additionally, we have received a $25,000 seed from the Nord Foundation to begin aiding students, with a potential contribution of up to $25,000 more depending on funds raised. We encourage you to help us on our mission to make education more accessible.
Spinal Cord Injury FAQs and Statistics
Causes of Spinal Cord Injury: While some spinal cord injuries are sometimes caused by activities such as sports, the overwhelming majority are the result of every day activities such as falls and car accidents, which cause 30.5% and 38% respectively.
Classification of Injury: A patient’s ASIA score is a common way to determine the extent of the damage to the spinal cord after injury. The majority of patients present with incomplete injuries (66.3%), usually corresponding to more recovery than complete injuries (33.3%), which show limited or no recovery below the level of injury.
First Year Medical Costs from Spinal Cord Injury: The costs incurred by patients during their first year after spinal cord injury increase as the level of injury increases, with paraplegics costing least ($519,520) and high level tetraplegics costing the most ($1,065,980). Any injury can cause a great financial burden on the patient and their family.
Education: At the time of their injury, 51.5% of people have only a high school diploma, and 10.9% have a college education or higher. This leaves the spinal cord injury population well below national averages on education levels.
Occupation: At 1 year after injury, a drastic decrease from 58.1% to 12.4% in participation in the workforce can be seen, while students show a modest increase from 15.1% to 15.8%. Despite this, at 10 years after injury, workforce participation remains far lower than the national average at 27.7%, possibly indicating a lack of available work at their education level.
Make a Donation
The Impact of Your Donation: We at the SCI Scholars’ Fund encourage you to make a difference in the lives of students who desire continuing their education. By donating to the SCI Scholars’ Fund, you can provide students with the latest cutting-edge technology so students can fully engage in their academic endeavors. All donations will go directly towards products for students to use in their daily academic work.
Examples of the technology provided to recipients include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Dragon Naturally Speaking—voice to text software that allows a user to operate a computer and type with the use of voice as opposed to a keyboard to aid those with hand impairment.
- Livescribe Pen—pen that records a lecture while the user writes. Afterwards, it allows the user to return playback to any point in the lecture by clicking on a written point.
- Quadmouse—allows those with very little arm function to access a computer with the use of mouse controlled by breath.
Selection Process: The applicant selection process is based on financial need. Once applications are received, the care team at Craig Hospital selects eligible recipients. The care team is uniquely equipped with knowledge of each patient’s individual financial, medical and personal situation and as a result, they are able to identify both need and compatibility of the technology. Craig Hospital outpatients are also eligible, so long as they are continuing their education. Once approved, selected applicants will receive the products and can begin using them immediately to aid them in their educational pursuits.
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