Victory over Paralysis Logo



On June 23, 2014, we lost Shawn Graf, a valuable member of our family here at the Neuroscience Collaborative Center. Both as a University of Louisville employee and as a participant in multiple research studies, Shawn worked tirelessly to help find treatment therapies for individuals with spinal cord injury.

Shawn, like so many other teenagers from Louisville, went to Florida for spring break in his senior year of high school. On that trip, he sustained an injury when swimming in the ocean, leaving him paralyzed. When he first approached our group about volunteering as a participant, his spirit and enthusiasm inspired us all. Over the years we watched Shawn graduate high school, graduate college and become an amazing man. He was always willing to help in any way that he could, ever smiling along the way.

His parents would like to continue Shawn's work through the Shawn Graf Memorial Fund to assist the ultimate goal of achieving Victory Over Paralysis. To make a contribution, please visit our giving site, and specify the Shawn Graf Memorial Fund in the Special Instructions section of the online giving form.




Victory Over Paralysis

Rob Summers


Rob Summers was a college baseball player for the Oregon State Beavers. He was a pitcher with the 2006 College World Series Champions and had aspirations of being a major league player. Rob was injured on July 12th, 2006 when he was 20 years old, hit by a car in his own driveway. His injury was at C6 which left him paralyzed from the neck down. Rob was the first to undergo the experimental epidural stimulation program, implanted in Dec 2009. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon, is a motivational speaker who also coaches youth baseball when not travelling.


Kent Stephenson


Kent Stephenson is the second person to undergo epidural stimulation. Kent was a Pro Am Motocross racer when on June 9, 2009, his motor locked up going off the face of an 80-foot table top jump. This caused Kent to crash, doing several cart wheels in his landing, injured his spine at T5 and T6 which left him paralyzed from the chest down. Kent was 21 years old at the time and was implanted three years later, in August 2012. He resides in Mount Pleasant, Texas, and works with his father's construction business, Stephenson Dirt Contracting, as an estimator/operator. On weekends he enjoys activities such as skeet shooting, hunting, fishing, rock crawling, and trailing in his utility terrain vehicle side-by-side. Kent just purchased his own home sitting on 11 wooded acres.


Andrew Meas


Andrew was working as an electronics technician at Flextronics before his injury. Injured on Sept 6, 2006 when he was 28 years old, Andrew was riding a motorcycle, on his way home from the gym, when he had a head-on collision with a car as it attempted to cross through four lanes of traffic without a traffic light. He was injured at C6-C7, sustained a broken right femur and lost part of his right thumb in the accident. Andrew was the third person to be implanted with the epidural stimulator, which took place in Nov, 2012. He resides in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife and son, and is employed with the University of Louisville as an electronics technician.


Dustin Shillcox


Dustin was employed in the family business, DJ Glass, in Green River, Wyoming after graduating from high school. He was injured on August 26, 2010, when he was 26 years old. Dustin was driving the business van in nearby Rock Springs when a tire blew out and sent his van into a cable that lined the median. The van flipped and he was flung from the driver's side window. Dustin broke his back, sternum, elbow and four ribs, and his lungs collapsed; he had bleeding to the brain and injured his spine at T5, and was left paralyzed from the chest down. Dustin was implanted in Jan 2013 and completed his initial experiments in December that same year. He has resumed his active outdoor lifestyle with his family, including snow machining.

Victories over paralysis is what motivates us as we design each experiment, document and categorize each participant's progress. We are an international team committed to understanding neuroscience and translating scientific findings to the clinic to continually move toward fully overcoming paralysis.

Every spinal cord injury is as unique as the person experiencing them. We strive to understand that injury and the impact it has an individual's life. Every incremental gain a person makes in mobility, health and quality of life is a victory.

The University of Louisville's Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center has basic and translational research taking place right alongside the best in clinical care at Frazier Rehab Institute. It is our lab's proximity to that clinical care that makes those daily, incremental victories available to patients possible. Locomotor training is a cornerstone to recovery of function below the level of injury, reducing secondary complications and improving quality of life.

Epidural stimulation was a breakthrough in our understanding of control of movement and the possibilities for the most severely injured. Rob Summers, who had a severe spinal cord injury received the implant in 2009 and began the experimental training that accompanied it. Today, three other individuals who have undergone the treatment are experiencing similar, unexpected yet significant results.

Building upon this strong foundation and success, we now have clinical services and research for children with paralysis. Some children are born with paralysis because of conditions such as spinal tumors, while others are due to injuries and diseases. The injury also interrupts the normal course of their growth and development. We have pioneered research and practice of activity-based therapies, specifically locomotor training, to promote recovery for kids after spinal cord injury. We have seen improved abilities to sit, stand, balance, and step. People of all ages with paralysis will now have the opportunity to benefit from the research and clinical application of scientific findings.

Victory...Over...Paralysis. Do your part to achieve victory.



Interested in Research Programs?

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

NRN

Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

KSCIRC

University of Louisville

UCLA

CALTech

Neuro RTI

Frazier Rehab Institute, KentuckyOne Health

NIH

Kessler Foundation

Craig H. Neilsen Foundation