Atlanta, GA,
10:02 AM

Reigniting Energy and Finding Support

As a teen with a spinal cord injury, Katie learned to surround herself with a supportive community. Thirty years later, she has found that support again through Shepherd Center’s Project Workout on Wheels Internet Intervention (WOWii).

Michigan native Katie Brown was 15 when she sustained a spinal cord injury in a car crash. Fortunately, she found solace in her local adaptive sports community.

“You have people who understand where you’re coming from and your obstacles,” Katie explains. “As much as you love your family and friends, they can’t fully understand what you’re going through like someone with a spinal cord injury can.”

When Katie recently moved to Flowery Branch, Georgia, she had a difficult time finding the same feeling of connection. Then, she enrolled in Shepherd Center’s Project WOWii, a research study that examines how valuable and effective an online format is for helping individuals with spinal cord injuries stay active.

“One of the biggest reasons I wanted to start is because the older you get, the more bad habits can get in your way,” Katie says. “I found myself not having energy. Transfers are hard. This program made sense to be able to help me make a good lifestyle change.”

As Katie logged on to her first WOWii meeting, she was not sure what to expect, but she knew it would be beneficial. Equipped with her provided TheraBand and hand bike, she was prepared for her instructors to prescribe a list of mandatory exercises but was pleasantly surprised to find a personalized experience.  

“The cool thing is there is no set of exercises you’re given,” Katie recalls. They give you the tools, you find what works for you, and then we come together and talk about it. Some of the things people have shown me have been incredible. I thought, ‘How have I not thought about this for the past 30 years?’”

In the nine weeks since her program began, Katie has worked hard to meet her exercise goals, sneaking in 30 minutes of cardio on her hand bike before her morning coffee. Along with renewed energy and feeling physically healthier, Katie has finally found the community of spinal cord injury support she had been looking for.

“It’s gone beyond the exercise,” Katie says. “It’s really in the camaraderie. Being about to bounce ideas off people who understand and get their suggestions is priceless.  I’ve been lacking that for the past 10 years in Georgia.”

As Katie’s program ends, she is looking for new ways to raise awareness for Project WOWii.

“The important thing for me is getting people to know this program is out there,” Katie says. Even if you have a busy schedule, you can still do this program. It sounds overwhelming to fit in 150 minutes of exercise a week. It’s actually been super easy. Thirty minutes Monday through Friday, and you’ll feel 1000 times better doing it.”

Written by Lindsey Rieben.

If you’re interested in participating in our next Project WOWii group, please review the eligibility requirements on our website and contact Amber Lopez at or by phone at 404-350-7656.

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.