Greg Traynor Works Hard at The Shepherd Center

Greg Traynor loves the outdoors

Greg Traynor loves the outdoors

Editor’s Note: Greg Traynor received horrible news. He had broken his neck in a diving accident and was paralyzed from his chest down. Instead of being concerned about the function he had lost, he asked his physical therapist, “What do I do now to get back as much function as I can? Where do I go from here?”Part 3 of a 5 part series.

“One of the advantages I gained by going to the Shepherd Center was that all the doctors, nurses and therapists had experience dealing with patients who had high spinal cord injuries. The people who worked with me there were fantastic. From the day I arrived, I was in physical therapy. They slowly weaned me off the ventilator that I’d been on for over a month, and finally stopped suctioning to get the fluid out of my lungs. (When I’d arrived at theShepherdCenter, I was still having problems breathing, and a respiratory therapist had to come and suction my lungs to enable me to breathe.) While I was on the respirator, my caregivers learned to read my lips, because I couldn’t talk. Finally they put a device in my trachea, and I slowly relearned to talk. When the doctors finally took the trach out, I was able to talk normally. I had gotten really frustrated when people couldn’t read my lips and understand what I was trying to say. If I needed help or assistance, the Shepherd Center had a Sip/Puff call button that I could blow into or suck on to notify the attendant or the nurse that I needed help.

“I slowly started to regain function in my arms.  First I got a little movement in my left arm, but since I was right handed, I couldn’t do a lot. Slowly my right arm began to get more function. Today I’ve got function in both my arms, and I can move my wrists, but I don’t have feeling below my biceps and don’t have any function in my triceps. I have limited function in both arms but no hand function. I have a brace on my right arm, and a Universal Cuff with a pencil in it. The pencil allows me to type and dial my phone, and I can also put a fork in the Universal Cuff and do more things independently.”

“While I was at the Shepherd Center, I took classes on spinal cord injuries, went to group counseling and took classes on assistive technology, so that I could learn about the devices I needed to use to control my house and learn how to drive my van. I also took classes in therapeutic recreation, which involved swimming, jet-skiing, and rope climbing. I learned that even though I was a patient with a high spinal cord injury, I still could do a lot of things, even though I might have to do them in a different way. I was really thankful for theShepherdCenter. I already had an undergraduate degree in Administration of Justice from Penn State University, and being a part of the Shepherd Center’s therapeutic recreation and assistive technology programs made me want to go back to school and get a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.

Greg hoped rehab would help him get back to the outdoors.

Greg hoped rehab would help him get back to the outdoors.

“I was in the Shepherd Center for 3 months, and then I moved back to Pennsylvania to be closer to my family. My parents and brother had remodeled their homes to be wheelchair accessible. Although I had moved out of my parents’ home when I was 21, now here I was living with them at 31. I’d lived all over the country, and I was accustomed to living by myself, so moving back in with my parents and being totally dependent on them was really difficult for me. I needed help to do anything. This time was really difficult for me mentally, because I always prided myself on being a strong, independent individual. I didn’t like being dependent, so I tried to get stronger and concentrated on the positive things that I could do independently.

Next: Greg Traynor’s Master’s Degree and New Job

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at


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