Walking with Anthony

SPINAL CORD INJURY AWARENESS MONTH

INTRODUCING SCI HEROES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

This September, we aim to raise SCI awareness by sharing 30 different stories from 30 individuals with SCI, highlighting their tragedies and triumphs each day on our social channels and website. Walking With Anthony receives thousands of grant applications every year from individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) in desperate need of help. Each story has the same underlying theme: these brave heroes need mental, physical, and financial guidance and support. 

SCI HERO

Austin Somerville

Austin Somerville

On May 15, 2020, at the age of 16, I was in a hot tub at a friend’s birthday party. The parents of the home allowed someone to dispense dish soap in the swimming pool and hot tub which created about a foot of bubbles above the surface of the water.

Someone splashed soap suds onto my face that I could not wipe off. In a mindset of clearing off my face somehow, I turned and slithered head first into the camouflaged pool.

It was evidently very shallow because I hit the bottom and broke cervicals 5,6, and 7 in my neck which resulted in a spinal cord injury. I was immediately paralyzed from my chest down throughout my whole body. I tried to swim, but I could not move. I prayed.

Only one person saw me under the bubbles. My friend, John, rescued me from drowning. The following morning, I had stabilization surgery and was placed in the ICU for 12 days.

On May 27th, I was transferred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, G.A. for their spinal cord injury Inpatient care. Only my mother was allowed to be with me. About 3 weeks after my arrival, I moved my big toe for the first time!

Immediately, I was put on the Locomat to “wake up” more of my nervous system. I was completing about 5 hours of multiple therapies a day! Slowly, many areas began to move. Along with a good amount of movement and feeling came severe neurospasms. They were so severe that my doctor was approved to implant the Baclofen Pump so it would administer Baclofen directly on my spinal cord to reduce the spasms.

After 4 months of Inpatient care, I began their Day Program which was 3 months long. At the end of my time there, I was able to walk very slowly with a walker, braces on my right leg, and cotton under my right shoe to allow me to slide my right leg forward. My right side did not “wake up” as much as my left side did, yet I could feel most of my body and move many body parts and muscles.

I came home to S.C. in December 2020. My mother became extremely ill, so I was home until April 2021. My father and I went back to Shepherd Center so I could be in their most advanced physical therapy program, Beyond Therapy. Due to the long break at home, I had to regain some leg abilities which I was able to do. After 8 months of Beyond Therapy, I came home for awhile to do PT, OT, and gym workouts. I knew I needed more than what was available to me at home, but I was still peacefully determined and focused while I worked intensely.

I have been in physical therapy since the ICU. Each program kept me progressing with my body so I could keep going to the next level of ability. Then I did not have any options that I knew of. I seemed to have maximized out the traditional American physical therapy methods. I knew I was going to need an unconventional type of therapy to push myself and break through neurological and physical barriers so I could obtain more abilities. That is when I found and set my focus on Barwis.

On July 19, 2022, my parents drove me to Florida for the Barwis Neurological Reengineering in Deerfield Beach. I began the very next day! I am presently there.

I am applying for funding for Barwis Neurological Re-engineering Program in Deerfield Beach, Florida. I would like to be able to stay longer than I originally planned because it is the best and most intense therapy I have ever heard of or experienced.

I believe and know they can help me get where I want to be. I saw a difference the very first day! It cost is $110/hr. and I am completing 3 hours a day for 5 days a week. This cost will be around $36,000. Since I am from S.C., I am also having to rent an Airbnb, so the cost of that is a heavy one as well. This area is expensive, especially at this time of year. Our contract is for $25,000. for July 20-December 16th. The rental is not ADA accessible, but we are making it work to keep costs lower.

All of these costs are not covered by insurance, therefore I am asking for assistance so I can keep progressing in my recovery as I have the last couple weeks here. I would like to stay in this program until at least December 16, 2022.

My long term goal is to be able to walk on Clemson University campus in Fall 2023. Since the month after my injury, I began working again on my high school curriculum with a Shepherd Center tutor. I then completed my Junior year of high school when I was in the Beyond Therapy Program. I use many adaptations and advanced technology devices since my hands are still severely impaired.

I am presently taking 2 more classes online while I am at Barwis so I can graduate high school in January 2023.

At Clemson University, I plan to study Biomedical Engineering so I can improve the lives of others who are going through this immense challenge of a spinal cord injury.

I desire to invent or partake in something that improves the quality of life of people with spinal cord injuries. Actually, I know we need a healing treatment that can be accessible right after the injury while in the ER or hospital. We need a cure! I am passionate about being a part of that cure!

Please help me to be able to stay here at Barwis so I will have the greatest opportunity to reach my short term and life goals.

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Additional Links:

Give Directly to Austin via Help Hope Live:

YouTube - Austin's Legs are Waking Up!:

Greenville County 16-year-old now paralyzed, spreads pool safety message:

Austin Somerville - WYFF4 News - Faith & Friends:

Teen paralyzed in diving accident looks to new regenerative treatments:

More SCI Heroes

Please share these stories during the month of September to help us raise awareness for spinal cord injury:

Rhonda Williams
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Rhonda Williams

I am a C5 C6 quadriplegic who had a car accident when I was 16 in 1989 in Virginia. Through the many years of living as a quadriplegic I have had ebbs and flows. I met my husband while living in...

David Wieselmann
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David Wieselmann

I was Mt. Biking with friends up in Vermont after work. We were cutting down a hill at the very end of run, and my front wheel sunk in some soft dirt. I went over the handlebars and did a...

Stephanie Nichols-Rodas
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Stephanie Nichols-Rodas

I had a car accident May 6th,2017, early in the morning on my way to work. Another car was going to hit me, so I swerved and hit a concrete median while merging on to the freeway. I flipped 3...

Eden Hoelscher
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Eden Hoelscher

On December 23, 2015, our five-year-old daughter, Eden, collapsed on the ground after doing a backbend on our living room floor. Within 30 minutes, she was paralyzed from the waist down. She was...

Rebecca Koltun
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Rebecca Koltun

On March 13, 2021, I was skiing with some friends in Vermont. While I do not recall the day itself, I was told that I had a very bad fall. I woke up in a hospital in New Hampshire, paralyzed from...

Rob Balucas
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Rob Balucas

hey, i’m rob This part of my story starts in 2015. That year was a shaping up to be a breakout year for my business and me. My business, a boutique creative agency, was on track to grow by 12%...

Stevie VanAusdale
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Stevie VanAusdale

I was in a car accident the summer going into my junior year of high school. I was with 4 friends. We made the poor choice of throwing water bottles at other cars, which caused one car to chase...

Casey Ellin
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Casey Ellin

On June 1st, 2013, when Casey was only 26 years old, he had an accident at Jones Beach that forever changed his life. After diving into the ocean, he fractured his C4 – C6 vertebrae, leaving him...

Michael Kim
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Michael Kim

38 years old father of two young children, PARALYZED. This fund is set up for Mike's family during a time of incredible heartache, to help them navigate a long road of recovery and treatment....

Anne Nelson
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Anne Nelson

I was a passenger in a car accident. After emergency personnel rescued me from the car I was taken to Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, AL where emergency surgery was done to stabilize my spine....

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DISCLAIMER:

Walking With Anthony receives thousands of grant applications every year from individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) in desperate need of help. Although we are not able to directly support every individual, for your participation you will receive valuable resources regarding mentorship, mental health, community, advice, and education to help you on your SCI journey. 30 stories will be chosen to share on social media, and those individuals will also receive $200 of wellness supplements to aid in their recovery.

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