6 Famous People with Spinal Cord Injuries


By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – Spinal cord injuries afflict the famous and not-so-famous alike. But hearing the stories of celebrities who have experienced these life-altering events—and how they never gave up the spirit of living following their diagnosis—can be inspiring for everyone whose lives have been touched by such an injury. Here are six notable examples:

  • Christopher Reeve: Best remembered for his cinematic portrayal of Superman, Reeve famously became tetraplegic after he met with a fateful accident at an equestrian competition in 1995. Following his injury, he became a proponent of stem cell research and founded the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation (CRF), resumed acting and went on to direct two movies before his death at age 52 following a cardiac arrest, according to the CRF.
  • Isaac Redman: In 2014, the 29-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers running back announced he was retiring to due to a spinal cord injury, according to the National Football League website. In five seasons—all with the Steelers—Redman earned 1,148 yards on 282 attempts and five touchdown rushes. He has embarked on a new career as a coach of seventh- and eighth-grade football players.
  • Amy Van Dyken: The six-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer severed her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident in 2014. Although she initially lost the use of her legs, she is now able to stand on her own, according to People magazine. She has since become the fundraising captain of Team Reeve, the fundraising arm of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
  • Darryl Stingley: Stingley was a wide receiver whose career with the New England Patriots was ended by an on-field spinal cord injury in 1978, according to ESPN. Following his injury, he served as executive director of player personnel for the Patriots, co-authored a memoir and started an organization to help troubled youth. He passed away in 2007.
  • Curtis Mayfield: Soul and funk composer, R&B singer, songwriter and producer, Mayfield is well-known for his soundtrack for Superfly. After being struck by a lighting rig while performing at an outdoor concert, he was left tetraplegic. He continued recording vocals until his passing at the age of 57, according to Rolling Stone.
  • Roy Campanella: One of the most skillful catchers in baseball, Campanella was voted Most Valuable Player three times in the 1950s, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. His career was halted after a car accident that left him to endure tetraplegia. Notwithstanding, he continued in baseball as a mentor and coach and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He died of a heart attack in 1993.

“Spinal cord injury can affect anyone, famous or otherwise, at any age,” says Dr. Stephen Huhn, VP, Clinical Research and Chief Medical Officer of StemCells, Inc., a developer of stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury. “Those whose lives have been touched by such injuries either directly or indirectly should be aware that research is being done to innovate new treatments.”

The Pathway Study, being conducted by StemCells, Inc. at various sites around the U.S and in Canada, is evaluating human neural stem cell transplantation as a potential therapy for those with cervical spinal cord injury. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the safety and potential benefit of an investigational product called human central nervous system stem cells (HuCNS-SC®) for people with this type of injury. To learn about eligibility for enrollment in the study, please visit www.sciresearchstudy.com.

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