After Amy Ewing sustained a spinal cord injury, she found a community she has returned to again and again for a physical and emotional boost.
When Amy Ewing was 18 and a first-year college student, she sustained a C4-C6 spinal cord injury (SCI) after diving off a pier. She completed inpatient rehabilitation close to home in Huntington, New York, and then came to Shepherd Center for the Day Program. There, she rediscovered her love for art, working with her therapists to develop ways to hold a paintbrush and even taking classes at Callanwolde, a local Atlanta fine arts center.
“That’s how I started getting back into art,” she recalls, “which gave me the courage to pursue an art degree.”
Amy’s care team also connected her with an organization that trained service dogs.
“They had a dog ready who preferred females, and they wanted someone who would be active, so they contacted Shepherd Center, and the head of the Day Program at the time said, ‘I have the perfect person for you.’”
Amy’s service dog, Rebel, made a big difference in her life.
“He helped me through a tough period and transition. Having Rebel changed my outlook and helped me to be more outgoing, especially going to school. He got to know everyone in art school and became part of the class.”
Since graduating college, Amy has worked many years as a painter and freelance web designer. Recently, she began her master’s degree in creative business leadership through an online program at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
“I want to get into interior design or service design for the medical field and design for patients with disabilities in medical facilities. I want to figure out where I can do the most good and have the most impact,” Amy explains.
Now 37, Amy returns to Shepherd for several weeks most years for Beyond Therapy®, an activity-based program designed to promote lifelong wellness. Amy was one of the early participants when Beyond Therapy began.
“I’m still very close with some of the original members, and I love it and appreciate it every time I go. Probably one of the best parts about Shepherd is the positivity of the people. It’s a support group for my caregiver too. It's incredible the support system we have at Shepherd. Aside from a physical refresher, returning for Beyond Therapy is an emotional serotonin booster. It really is good for the heart and soul too.”
Written by Ruth Underwood
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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.