Atlanta, GA,
13:46 PM

Empowering Independence

After reaching out to Shepherd Center’s Wheelchair Seating Clinic, Liz Persaud found the right powerchair to help her enjoy life and live music while grooving to her own beat.

Liz Persaud is an Atlanta native, superb party hostess, and lifelong music lover, attending an average of twenty concerts per year with her husband. Her wheelchair has sometimes made it difficult for Liz to see her favorite bands up close, so when she heard about Shepherd Center’s Wheelchair Seating Clinic, she was hopeful the team there would help her find a solution

At nine months old, Liz was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a condition in which muscles weaken over time. As a result, a powerchair has always been essential for Liz.

“My chair is an extension of my body,” she says. “As I get older and my disability progresses, my chair needs to change with me.”

As her condition progressed, she began looking for a powerchair that would fit her needs and considered finding a new seating clinic. She was intrigued when her friends told her about their successes at Shepherd Center’s Wheelchair Seating Clinic.

“I grew up in Atlanta, so I have used resources at Shepherd Center for many years,” Liz explains. “So, I was eager to get started when I learned what Shepherd Center’s seating clinic could do.”

Before retiring from her role as program and outreach manager at Georgia Tech’s Tools for Life Assistive Technology Program, she met Danny Housley, Shepherd Center’s Assistive Technology Center Equipment Case Manager. The pair became fast friends and Danny connected Liz with Robin Skolsky, a physical therapist at Shepherd Center’s Seating Clinic, and Derek Register, ATP, CRTS, with the NuMotion program, helping to make sure all recommended equipment works together.

“Robin and Derek were instrumental,” Liz explains. “This is the first time I’ve had someone pay attention to my body and really listen to what I had to say. They just nailed it. My joystick is now incredibly customized because I don’t have a lot of hand strength, so when I have it in what I call ‘Liz mode,’ I know it’s highly sensitive and won’t take a lot for me to move it.”

In addition to allowing Liz more independence in everyday tasks like elevating her chair to eat at a table or move around her home, her new powerchair helped her gain more confidence to enjoy life.

“The Dave Matthews Band is my favorite, and they recently came to Atlanta. Because of my new chair, I was able to elevate myself up enough that I could be front and center in the pit. The elevation on the chair also helps me to host parties, eat properly at the table, look people in the eye, and give someone a hug without it being awkward. It helps me enjoy life, and that’s just everything.”

Written by Lindsey Rieben

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About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.