Created in 2005, the Brain Injury Association of Louisana (BIALA) is a non-profit that aims help create resources and awareness for people who have TBI and SCI. They also serve as the Louisiana chapter of United Spinal Association, and offer resources for Louisiana United Spinal members.
As part of this goal, BIALA holds an annual two-day conference in Kenner, LA to educate and support medical professionals and members who have traumatic brain injury and/or spinal cord injury.
This year’s conference was titled, “Facing the Future,” and Cure Medical was a proud financial supporter and participant in the event. Cure Advocate Chris Collin, who is a paraplegic, attended the event too as a peer counselor. He shared his story of life after spinal cord injury as a motivational talk for BIALA members during their Survivor Saturday educational program.
“After my peer support presentation, several BIALA members talked with me individually and shared that hearing my own story about SCI positively impacted their own outlook,” Chris explains.
“I met some great people in Louisiana who roll like I do, and we all had fun while supporting a wonderful conference.”
Other highlights at the BIALA conference included:
- Up to 12 CEUs from clinical presenters from around the country
- Examples of the latest innovations in rehabilitation technology and medical resources
- Unmasking Brain Injury Art Display
- Survivor Saturday – a day of hands-on activities and professional talks geared towards survivors where Chris Collin offered future-focused peer advice.
How Chris Collin Began His Path as aN SCI Peer Counselor
“I stayed in the hospital in Maine for 2 months after a motorcycle accident caused me to become a paraplegic, having several surgeries and waiting for a spot to open at the Shepherd Center. One of my parents was with me every day,” Chris says.
“Since I only had visited Florida in the Deep South, I thought traveling to Atlanta would be like visiting another country. However, after my Shepherd Center stay, I realized how amazing the facility and the people there were. They had a deep understanding of what I needed and how I needed to be rehabbed. At the Shepherd Center, I constantly learned more about how to do things I never thought I could do.”
“For the first time, someone presented me with options,” Chris explained.
“First, I was taught how to dress myself and perform all the different tasks I needed for every day living. One month there was inpatient therapy, and the second month was outpatient therapy.
The Shepherd Center offered about 100 different wheelchair-accessible apartments connected to the hospital, and my family and I stayed there. I had a call button there I could press, and a nurse would come to the apartment and help me. The folks at the Shepherd Center taught me how to live independently,” Chris adds.
Chris Collin’s Life After Spinal Cord Injury
Chris decided to give back as an SCI peer counselor after his own injury and rehab experience. An avid sportsman and outdoor enthusiast, today Chris is a volunteer, teacher and guide at Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation, helping people get into sports while disabled.
Chris often serves as a trained peer counselor at New England Rehabilitation Hospital with small groups and individual visits, and he also assists the University of New Hampshire quad rugby team.
He also works at Cabela’s in the hunting department, sharing his knowledge and love of the outdoors through his work. You’ll find him outdoors often, pursuing his passion for deer, waterfowl, handcycling or adaptive skiing.
CHRIS BELIEVES IN PEER SUPPORT AS A CURE ADVOCATE
In addition to his experience as a peer counselor, Chris also serves as a Cure Medical advocate, sharing his experience with intermittent catherization to help others learn as well who may be new to cathing.
“I’ve been asked to serve as one of the Cure Medical advocates and I’m honored to do so,” Chris explains.
“Right after my injury, I consistently got urinary tract infections (UTIs). I tried many different brands of catheters. I always washed my hands carefully before using my catheters and tried to keep everything associated with my catheters as sterile as possible.
However, I continued to get UTIs. My catheter provider, located in Portland, Maine, had been supplying my catheters and suggested I try one of the Cure Medical catheters that they carry. The Cure products worked really well.
To find the Cure Medical catheter that worked best for me, I tried a Cure Catheter Closed System, a catheter that came pre-attached to a bag. I never really touched the catheter. And after I began using the Cure Catheter Closed System, I seldom had UTIs,” Chris says.
To request free samples of the Cure Medical® Closed System or any Cure Medical® catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
CHRIS EXPLAINS WHY HIS CHOICE OF CATHETER MATTERS SO MUCH TO HIM
I started off liking the Cure Medical catheter, because it reduced the number of UTIs I had. But then, after I learned more about them, I really appreciated that the Cure catheters didn’t contain any DEHP or BPA in their catheters. (Learn more about the concerns with DEHP here.)
In several studies, DEHP and BPA had been linked to cancer. I didn’t want to put anything with DEHP or BPA in my body.
“I’d love to talk with any person who wants to try out a Cure Medical catheter, and I’ll be happy to share my experiences. Feel free to reach out to me!”, Chris adds.
MEET CHRIS COLLIN AT THE NEW YORK ABILITIES EXPO
As a Cure Medical advocate, Chris Collin will be visiting with customers and friends in the Cure Medical booth at different events throughout the year like the BIALA educational conference above and the Abilities Expo.
People with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded vets and healthcare professionals attending Abilities Expo (#AbilitiesExpo) on May 4-6, 2018 at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center in Edison, New Jersey are eagerly anticipating the event!
Meet Chris Collin in Cure Medical’s booth #111, and get your free pass here to enjoy all of the fun at the New York Abilities Expo.
GET INVOLVED IN Louisiana United Spinal or YOUR LOCAL UNITED SPINAL CHAPTER
If you have a passion for helping others who are going through Spinal Cord Injury like you did, you may want to consider getting involved in peer counseling at your local rehabilitation center or joining your local chapter of United Spinal like Chris did.
United Spinal has over 70 years of experience educating and empowering individuals with SCI/D to achieve and maintain the highest levels of independence, health and personal fulfillment. With have 50+ local chapters and 190+ support groups nationwide, their programs connect members to their peers and foster an expansive grassroots network that enriches lives.
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