The Quadriplegic Inventors Club

The Quadriplegic Inventors Club

I gotta say, there’s nothing that makes you feel more stupid than breaking your own neck. I think that’s why so many of us work so hard to create as many inventive solutions as we can; we know it’s up to us and nobody else to figure out answers to our new difficulties in life.

But that’s easier said than done. No one has figured out how to cure us yet (although it would be awesome if someone with a spinal cord injury was eventually responsible for it), but these quad inventors – Mark Felling, Josh Winkler and Dr. Chris Wrenner,  just to name a few – have created dozens of amazing things they know they, and others like them, could use. And invent away they did!

Take for example Rick Goldstein of Go Mobility. He created a portable shower chair after struggling with his own shower chair while traveling. He created one that could be folded down into a small suitcase. This is exactly how most of the best inventions are created; out of necessity. Being paralyzed really puts you in a prime position to become an inventor, and Rick’s company is happily chugging along.

And Patrick Doherty, a C6-7 quad, is the inventor of the wheelchair attachment taking the disability world by storm – the FreeWheel – a front wheel that makes it easier for wheelchair users to go through all kinds of terrain from gravel, snow and sand to uneven ground. Only something this good (and it is; the reviews are on fire) could be invented by someone who has lived in the very situation they’re creating solutions for. Go FreeWheel; point.

See, us quads are constantly looking for creative solutions to a world that’s constantly fighting us. “How can we pick up things that are too heavy?” The Cripper of course. “How can we help with house chores?” Try his solutions. And one of my favorite questions to ask oneself, “How can we have more fun?” This question is exactly what newbie quadriplegic Skye Parker of Pacifica, California asked himself after his injury in 2011.

While out on the river with friends, Skye made the bad judgment call of trying to attempt a shallow dive in too shallow of water; a diving decision many people make. He hit his head on the rocky bottom just enough to break his neck, and is now a C5-6 quad. He was a 21 year old studying construction, thinking he was going to build houses for the rest of his life. Now he’s aiming to be a project manager at construction sites.

Skye also had to come up with a creative solution to having fun; the real real fun; not the kind where you smile and say you’re enjoying yourself just to appease your recreational therapist. A former surfer, Skye wanted to feel the wind again. And after discovering the world of kite buggies from a Craigslist ad, he knew this was a sport he could do.

But in order to do so, Skye needs to create a prototype that will allow himself and another individual with a disability to drive it together. He’s created what “The Spider Crab” will eventually look like online, and it looks sweet. He needs funds however to make this a reality, and he’s currently holding an online fundraiser to see it through. He’s trying to raise $20,800 and he’s $700 away from his goal! Check it out: Skye’s Kite Buggy Project

What I think is great about these inventors no matter what they create is that they use their “unfortunate situations” to invent amazing things, unlike so many of us who get depressed and give up on the world after our injury.

No, the Broken Neck Inventors Club members are fueled by hardship. They are true American inventors who realize good can come from pretty rough situations, and we love them for it.

Have you invented anything worth selling because of your disability?

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

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