Program helps paralyzed patients surf

Published: August 1, 2014  |  Source: wcax.com
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program-helps-paralyzed-Jackie-Colby-surfLIDO BEACH, N.Y. – Jackie Colby is thrilled to be back on a surfboard.

“It was absolutely amazing; it was the best natural high I’ve ever had in my life,” she said.

The 29-year-old former athlete and surfer was paralyzed last year after falling off the roof of her home.

She’s taking part in a program that brings activities and sports back into the lives of people with spinal cord injuries. Participants surf, kayak, cycle and dance.

“I just take them to a place that they never thought they could be at one point before,” said Mary Squillace, an assistant professor at Stony Brook University.

Squillace says the Empower Spinal Cord Injury program at Stony Brook gives patients both a mental and physical boost.

“It’s definitely great for their endurance, great for their trunk control, muscle strength,” Squillace said.

Joe Preti was apprehensive about getting in the surf.

“Once I was out there the water was very peaceful; it was beautiful,” he said.

The 63-year-old says the two-week program has shown him just how much is possible.

“We’ve done kayaking, we’ve done hand-cycling, we’ve done surfing,” he said. “The whole combination of the experiences that we’ve had have just really made me more alive.”

The program is now in its second year and accepts paralyzed patients from all over the country.

By CBS News

Visit the Empower Spinal Cord Injury website