Improving the quality of life with educational and recreational opportunities for individuals with spinal cord injuries.

26th Annual MetroHealth Spinal Cord Injury Forum

United Spinal Association of Northeast Ohio > Blog > Connections Newsletter Article > 26th Annual MetroHealth Spinal Cord Injury Forum

By Dr. James Wilson

In September 2022, the MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute convened the 26th annual SCI Forum in partnership with the United Spinal Association Northeast Ohio Chapter. This year’s theme was “Change and Transformation.” This was the first in-person forum since 2019 and included several changes to improve inclusivity. The date of the forum was moved from Friday to Saturday and shortened to 4 hours. The location was also moved from MetroHealth Main Campus to a newly renovated and more technologically superior space at MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute in Old Brooklyn. The hybrid nature allowed in person fellowship and remote participation.

Topics were once again inspired from community feedback and a diverse field of speakers were recruited.

Amber Brochetti spoke about Fitness and Recreation after spinal cord injury. Amber is a published and passionate physical therapist and nutritionist at the Cleveland VA Medical Center. She motivated the audience to get outside their comfort zone by emphasizing the benefits of fitness.

Matthew Riley and Jacqueline Stanton utilized their experience in social work and Vocational Rehabilitation to review government programs to benefit people with spinal cord injuries. This complex topic was focused on the practical understanding of resources that might be available. They answered many questions from the audience and provided referral information to MetroHealth and government offices to help.

Megan Hammond is the President of the local United Spinal Chapter, and a certified Peer Mentor. She brings experience working in the field of SCI and lived experience as someone with SCI. Megan used her passion for mental health and wellness to lead the group in several self-reflection exercises. She encouraged examining the language you use and how to regain control of your mindset to improve your quality of life.

The keynote speaker of the day was Stephen Polakowski, owner of Z-tech LLC. Steve demonstrated how he uses his 25 years of experience in the technology field to organize his life after spinal cord injury like a business. Steve dazzled the crowd with his detailed and innovative use of cloud-based organization to tasks such as caregiver scheduling. MetroHealth researchers and clinicians recently won a $200,000 award to start the first Assistive Technology Clinic in Northeast Ohio. Steve is a key consultant on this new, exciting venture to expand the opportunities for people living with SCI.

Individuals interested in helping plan the 2023 forum should contact Megan Hammond at mhammond1@metrohealth.org. Special thanks to the planning committee James Wilson, Bridget Blayney, and Megan Hammond and our generous sponsors Hollister, Coloplast, ABC Medical, Adaptive Sports Ohio, SCI Volunteer Corps, and NORSCIS.

The entire program can be viewed on the United Spinal Association of Northeast Ohio website: wwwusaneo.org/sciforum2022. Don’t forget to fill out the Forum Feedback Form listed on that page as well! We use that information to guide us in planning the next forum.

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