Scott Well’s is a United States Navy Veteran who had four deployments overseas. When he was home after his fourth deployment in 1999, he was hit by a drunk driver. Scott sustained a C5/C6 incomplete spinal cord injury due to the accident caused by the drunk driver. Scott's faith, support network, and persistence helped him become involved in adaptive sports, start a non-profit organization helping others with disabilities. Scott also represented the United States in the 2016 Paralympic hand-cycling competition. Enjoy getting to know Scott a little better by reading my interview with him.
Karen: Tell me a little about how you became injured and about our rehabilitation experience.
: I served in the United States Navy for ten years, and after my fourth deployment, I was hit by a drunk driver while living in South Carolina. My neck was broken at the C5/C6 level. My spinal cord injury is ASIA B, the first level of incomplete on the ASIA scale.
I spent two and a half months in the VA hospital in Augusta, Georgia. In the early stages of my recovery, I was only able to shrug my shoulders. I could not move my arms or my hands, which meant that I was dependent on other people to help me with all activities of daily living. I was also going through a divorce before the accident, which made it a tough time in my life. A good friend of mine from church came to rehab and took it upon herself to learn how to help me bathe, dress, and eat. She is a good friend of mine to this day, and she is the reason I was able to leave the rehabilitation hospital and go home the first time. I am so thankful to her because she sacrificed a lot to help me.
Karen: Many people go through denial after their spinal cord injury. How long did it take you to come to a stage of acceptance after your injury?
Scott: It was approximately six months after my injury that I came to accept my spinal cord injury fully. I know that some people accept their new circumstances quickly, and others spend their whole lives angry and bitter about living with a disability. I am thankful for my faith in God, friends, and family because they are the reason I was able to quickly accept my injury and start moving on with God's plan for my life.
One night about six months after the car accident, I prayed to God to let me know what He wanted me to do with my life. I was not asking God to heal me but to give me the tools I needed to accomplish the plans that I had for my future. The week that I prayed that prayer, I started to get some movement back in my arms. I regained partial triceps and use of my thumbs for pinching items. I can do so much more independently due to this partial return in arm and hand function. I felt like I had been successful in my life before my injury, but I accomplished more after my injury. I have always been a person who loved life. My accomplishment after my injury has been my greatest blessing.
Karen: What is one piece of advice that you would give to people who are recently become disabled?
: When I first moved back to Louisiana, I lived with family members, and they wanted to do everything for me. I had to push my family, especially my Mom, to let me do things for myself. Even if it takes me longer and looks complicated, I need to do them myself. I would tell people to strive to do all they can for themselves, even if that means telling friends and family to back off at times. We all need help sometimes, but the more you can do for yourself, the better off you will be. That will require some difficult conversations with family members, but it pays off in the long run.
Karen: I know that you were a Paralympic hand cyclist, and you represented the United States in the 2016 Paralympics held in Rio. Tell us how you got involved with adaptive sports.
Scott: A few years after my injury after I moved home to Louisiana, I had a friend tell me about an organization called the Wheelin’ Sportsman. I started organizing hunts with the Wheelin’ Sportsman, which I enjoyed and met some great people. I met a guy on a hunt to told me about hand cycling. We got along so well that he gave me my first-hand cycle that he had in the back of his truck. I have been cycling ever since. In addition to the Paralympics in 2016, I have also hand cycled across Louisiana's state twice, doing speaking events along the way. Participating in adaptive sports programs has opened up many doors for me. This is an excellent way for people with new injuries to meet others and learn how to live with a disability.
Karen: Tell me more about the non-profit organization you started.
Scott: In 2010, I started a non-profit organization called Independence Regained. Our mission is to rehabilitate, educate, and integrate people with disabilities back into an active and independent life. We do this by offering peer support, advocacy, and referrals to organizations that help people with disabilities. We also have an adaptive hand cycling program that helps people find the handcycle that best fits their goals and lifestyle. We do group activities and individual fitting sessions. Handcycles are highly customizable, and it takes time to find the perfect bike. I can also help individuals find organizations that can help cover the cost of the handcycle.
Scott Wells is a motivational speaker, certified Life Coach, and the CEO and President of Independence Regained. If you would like to get in touch with Scott for assistance, go to his website, Independenceregained.org