Former Spinal Cord Injury Patient Seeks to Inspire Others in His Writing
Michael Gaines, 42, of Fairburn, Ga., sustained a C-4 to -5 spinal cord injury in 1991 when he and his roommate jumped from their apartment’s second-floor window to flee gunshots fired in their building. That traumatic experience, his rehabilitation at Shepherd Center, and his attitude and accomplishments that followed led him to chronicle his life in a 2013 book titled “You’re Not Condemned Because You’re Confined!”
The firsthand account chronicles Michael’s life before and after his injury. “I’m proud that I was able to get it published and that it’s gotten such a good response, but my whole objective was to inspire,” Michael says. “Just because I’m confined to this wheelchair doesn’t mean that my life is over. You can’t let anything hold you back.”
Before Michael arrived at Shepherd Center a month and a half after his injury, he contracted double pneumonia and lost nearly 50 pounds. “Getting to Shepherd Center was like going from night to day,” Michael says. “All of a sudden, I was ready to get into everything with my physical therapy.”
He was able to start eating again, too. “I gained about 55 pounds in two and a half months,” Michael recalls. “They had to tell me to slow down because I was on a roll!”
He worked to become self-sufficient and eventually enrolled in Columbus State University, where he majored in computer science and psychology. In recent years, he’s turned to creative writing. Michael has already started a second book, and is learning about screenwriting and voiceover work.
“I just can’t sit still,” he says. “I know that I can inspire others, and that’s what drives me. That started with my experience at Shepherd Center. To this day, my time there still plays a role in how I choose to live my life.”
For more information about spinal cord injury rehabilitation at Shepherd Center, click here.
Written by Philip Jordan
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.