Spinal Cord Injury Stories

Norman's Story

Nov 17, 2021

“I was in rough shape, physically and mentally”


Norman Grayson was tackling one of those “easy to put off” home projects–painting the trim around an outside window. When he stepped off his ladder, he stumbled and fell, resulting in a C2 spinal cord injury.

“I was in rough shape physically and mentally. I spent 32 days in the ICU. My wife and family rotated 12-hour shifts to help me deal with my paralysis and psychosis. The mental challenge was crushing, but with faith and the prayers of many, I pulled through. The physical challenges were overwhelming. How do you even start?”

Fortunately, Norman didn’t have to figure that out alone. He was transferred to DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan’s (RIM) specialty inpatient unit for spinal cord injuries.

“RIM is an amazing community. The staff knows how to motivate without giving false hopes, and the other patients share great adaptive suggestions and ideas. At 6’5”, I’m a big guy and with arthritis. There were days I was so stiff, but the staff would always say, ‘let’s see what you can do and build on that.’ They were so creative, always willing to try new things, even if it took four of them to get me into position.”

Norman spent the end of 2019 as an inpatient, before transferring to outpatient therapy, where he received physical and occupational therapy three times a week at RIM. He was just progressing when COVID shut everything down in 2020.

“I had just started using a power wheelchair. My therapists gave me some home exercises, and after the three-month shutdown, I returned stronger than when I left. Today, I am using a walker and look forward to the next milestone on this journey.”