Atlanta, GA,
14:25 PM

Sense of Humor Sustains Teen -- and Others -- During Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Will Bucher, 19, of Sanford, North Carolina, is now a student at the University of North Carolina.

Two years ago, Will Bucher, now 19, was doing what he loved most – riding his motorcycle. Then, a car suddenly pulled in front of him. Before Will could react, he ran right into it.

Will, who is from Sanford, North Carolina, spent 22 days in the in the ICU at WakeMed’s Raleigh Campus in North Carolina, with multiple injuries, including a T-3 and T-4 spinal cord injury. His response was characteristically wry: “I was bummed out I couldn't ride mototrcycles anymore. I'd been riding my whole life and here I was chillin’ in the ICU.”

Will transferred to Shepherd Center in October of 2016, paralyzed from the chest down. His humor and positive “let’s-do-this” embrace of rehabilitation made him a favorite among staff and fellow patients.

To keep up with school, Will, then a junior in high school, took classes offered through Shepherd Center’s adolescent rehabilitation program. The hospital’s No Obstacles program further eased his transition. Through the program, a therapist visited his school to ensure accessibility and assure teachers and students the injury hadn’t changed Will, just his circumstances. Will graduated on schedule with his high school class in the spring of 2018.

Will is now a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, living on his own in a dorm and planning to major in computer science.

He credits Shepherd Center’s programs and positive, take-charge culture with his post-injury transition.

“Shepherd pushes you,” he says. “They know you can do it – you just have to tell yourself you can. And it works. I’m fully independent today.

“The big thing they help you do is find something you can do for fun,” adds Will, who doesn’t ride motorcycles anymore, but does drive a hot-red Mini Cooper S at home. “They don’t just teach you how to live, but how to live well. They show you your opportunities. You’re not limited to sitting in a room all day. They show you how to live in a chair and still have fun.”

Written by Drew Jubera

About Shepherd Center

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 neurological 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 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.