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Shepherd Center Chairman James Shepherd Attends Bill Signing at White House

ATLANTA - (March 30, 2009) - James Shepherd, chairman and co-founder of Shepherd Center, attended today's historical signing of the Omnibus Public Lands Bill, which includes the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act.

Shepherd was among a small group of individuals personally invited by Kareem Dale, special assistant to the President on disability policy, to join. Others included Paul Tobin, president of the United Spinal Association; Matthew Reeve, son of Christopher and Dana Reeve; Judith Heuman, director of Department on Disability Services; Marcie Roth, executive director of the Global Disability Solutions Group; and Paul Daversa, Co-Chair of Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Leadership Board.

“The Act has been more than a decade in the works and will help promote better cooperation between research and rehabilitation facilities,” Shepherd said. “It will allow us to move potentially life-changing science from laboratory to human trial to help improve outcomes and the quality of life for people with spinal cord disabilities from injury, stroke or other neurological diseases and disorders.”

Passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 25 and the U.S. Senate on January 15, Title XIV of the Bill contains the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act. The Act was named for the late Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana. The landmark legislation, which enjoyed bi-partisan support, will promote collaborative research, rehabilitation and quality of life initiatives for millions of Americans living with paralysis and spinal cord injuries.

It was introduced in the Senate by Tom Harkin (D-IA), who worked closely together with Christopher and Dana Reeve to promote expanded research and quality of life for people living with paralysis, particularly spinal cord injuries.

The Act has three components that support and enhance paralysis research, rehabilitation, and quality of life programs:

-- Paralysis Research - Expands research on paralysis at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This will encourage collaborative research by connecting scientists conducting similar work to further enhance understanding and speed discovery of better treatments and cures.

-- Paralysis Rehabilitation and Care - Builds on research to enhance daily function for people with paralysis, including a Clinical Trials Network, to measure effectiveness of certain rehabilitation tactics and encouraging shared findings on paralysis to improve rehabilitation.

-- Improving Quality of Life for Persons with Paralysis and Other Physical Disabilities - Works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve the quality of life and long-term health status of persons with paralysis and other physical disabilities.

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.