A Veteran's Life After a Spinal Cord Injury

Steve Adubato goes on-location to Kessler Foundation’s “Rebuilding Futures for our Nation’s Heroes” event to speak with Ian Betz, U.S. Navy Veteran and Coast Guard Reserve, about how living with a severe spinal cord injury has changed his life forever.

12/3/18 #2179






"We are speaking to a gentleman who was in the forum tonight, the panel discussion I'm pleased to moderate. He is Ian Betz, a U.S. Navy veteran, Coast Guard Reserve. It is great to be speaking with you. First, thank you for your service, and thank you for being a part of tonight. Let's talk about the purpose of tonight. You served our country, you continue to serve our country, but a couple of years ago, your life changed dramatically. Can you talk about it? Yes sir. I was in the reservation with my girlfriend, and we were just sitting along a path, and to make a long story short, a tree fell on me from behind. And it was one of those freak accidents where you have a billion trees, and I just happened to be in that area, where a tree decided to fall, and fall in my area, my direction. The impact on you in terms of the injury? I can't walk anymore. I'm a T10-T11 paraplegic. I use a wheelchair to get around. And it could have been worse, and I'm thankful that it wasn't. A little bit later on, you're going to be in what is called the exoskeleton, right? We'll show some video as we're talking about it, of some previous folks who have used the exoskeleton. Describe what it is, and describe how it's impacted your life. Sure. The exoskeleton is basically just a mechanical device, legs that strap outside of my legs, and around my waist with some upper body support, and it basically stands me up, and I'm able to walk, and turn around, sit back down, and the nice thing about it is it's nice to stand up again. You know, I'm used to always looking at people's, you know, midriffs. It's nice to be standing again, and, you know, looking at people's faces. It's clearly had an impact on the quality of your life. The foundation, Kessler Foundation, describe their role in all this. The Kessler Foundation has been great in that, I've been in studies that have been helping me. Like... Explain those studies if you could Ian. There's one called the wheelchair skill study, and that's helped me out to do stuff like wheelies, and... which is really helpful when you're in the city, because when you have to go off a subway car into a platform, there's usually a gap that's maybe two inches high and two inches wide, and if you know how to do a wheelie, you can just wheelie off of that. So... Do you have to work hard doing that? In the beginning, yeah. But it comes pretty..."