Deb Gordon’s guest was Peter Wilderotter President & CEO of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which is based in Short Hills New Jersey and was founded in 1995 after Mr. Reeve was spinal cord injured from a horsing accident. The Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.
Mr. Wilderotter discussed the complexity, severity and significance of these types of injuries and described the complications that Mr. Reeve and other people dealing with spinal cord injuries face including bladder and bowel issues, infections, and pain.
There are 5.5 million living with paralysis, which translates to 1 in 50 Americans. Christopher Reeve was a staunch advocate for them and worked to find a cure through spinal cord research, while Dana advocated to provide care to those afflicted. The Foundation offers a Quality of Life program that has given 16 million dollars in grants to organization helping those with spinal cord injuries, and also offers free support to family members of those with spinal cord injuries through their Resource Center.
Prior to Christopher Reeve’s efforts there was very little that was understood about spinal cord injuries. Mr. Wilderotter stated that Mr. Reeve became “the first person to use his celebrity and friends to create awareness and put together a research infrastructure to attack it”. He also discussed the new and progressive treatments that have become available as a result, which offers hope. Mr. WIlderotter talked about Rob Summers, a former baseball player, paralyzed after a hit and run, who received epidural stimulation and has subsequently re-gained the use of many of his functions.