Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center Logo

Since 2004, Gary Karp has been sponsored by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center — the quality of life side of the Reeve Foundation — to speak at rehabilitation centers and to students of occupational and physical therapy across the United States.

The Reeve Foundation fully funds all of Gary's expenses and fee in their commitment to be of service to people living with paralysis and the professionals who support them.

The Talk:
Thriving Through and Beyond Trauma

What happens when a person faces a traumatic change in their life such as an acquired physical disability? What are the resources — inner and outer — that we draw from when our future, and our very identity, suddenly change? How do we create the best possibility of moving through a period of trauma to the other side — a life of independence, possibilities, and meaning?

Gary Karp has been through and beyond that process, and sheds light on this poignant human experience in ways that attendees have consistently described as "insightful, "eye-opening," "authentic," and "inspirational."

Speaking Concepts and Key Points

 

What is the optimal professional relationship a therapy professional needs to achieve to be effective working with a person dealing with traumatic change?

Gary helps students understand that the role they will play is as a collaborator, a relationship of trust and connection. They will be partners in a process of re-emergence as their clients move through an undeniably complex and difficult process of finding a new — or renewed — vision of their lives.

The core message of the talk is that human beings are all wired with a capacity to adapt, that we have a drive to reach for our potential, and that it is very much the norm for people to integrate and normalize with a disability — assuming they get access to the support and resources they need.

Built around his experience acquiring a T12 spinal cord injury in 1973 at the age of 18, Gary demystifies the process of rehabilitation and the experience of living with a disability. Key topic areas include:

  • Coping Styles
  • Notable Epiphanies
  • Social Stereotypes of Disability
  • The Value of Rehab
  • Forming a New Life Vision
  • Letting Go of Your Coping Style
  • How Much Disability Has Changed
  • Wheelchairs
  • Sexuality

Just following a traumatic change such as a spinal cord injury, the path ahead is all but a total mystery. How does someone live with paralysis? Will I even have to, or can I reasonably hope for recovery?

Targeted first and foremost to rehab inpatients (and valuable as well to families, recent graduates, and staff) Gary offers some perspective on the path ahead for people with recently acquired disability.

Striking the balance is the trick: making the most of rehab does not mean surrendering the hope of recovery. Gary helps people see that rehab is about being at your best, being as active and independent as possible. Rehab is not about giving up, but strikes the balance between living as fully as possible in each moment, while supporting the body and mind in its capacity to heal.

Built around his experience acquiring a T12 spinal cord injury in 1973 at the age of 18, this talk affirms the universal human capacity to normalize, and integrate a disability into our whole sense of self. Whether focused on recovery or preparing for their life ahead with an impairment, attendees will gain insight into this powerful aspect of being alive, and draw on it as they move through the especially powerful and mysterious initial stage just post-trauma.

Key points include:

  • Coping Styles
  • Notable Epiphanies
  • Social Stereotypes of Disability
  • The Value of Rehab
  • Forming a New Life Vision
  • Letting Go of Your Coping Style
  • How Much Disability Has Changed
  • Wheelchairs
  • Sexuality

For information on how to have Gary speak at your OT or PT program, or spinal cord rehabilitation center, fully funded by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center, contact Gary by email or call him at 415.491.4280.

John White

Program Director, Pacific University, Hillsboro, OR

"I was  amazed at how effectively Gary addressed so many of the topics that I feel pressed to squeeze into a semester-long course on the disability experience."

Marie Protesto

Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, Philadelphia, PA

"Wow, what a great presentation! Gary's ease of movement, use of personal photographs, and humor softened the heavy topics being covered. He was able to eloquently put into words the emotional roller coaster patients go through."

Anne James

Program Chair, Bay Path College, Longmeadow, MA

"Gary's presentation was the perfect message for my students, promoting rehabilitation professionals as partners in the process and emphasizing how important it is to meet individuals in their "space," i.e., with their unique approach to dealing with/managing a disability. He was engaging and entertaining, but at the same time, provided lots of examples of ways that others can support people with disabilities to resume a rewarding life, with all its trappings - joyful, painful, inspiring, difficult, messy - simply, human."

Jena Munson

Alegent Health Immanuel Rehabilitation, Omaha, NE

"Those who attended were very thankful for having the opportunity to be able to experience Gary's tremenedous presentation. I hope that this program will be available for a long time to come, because he makes a great impact on those who are newly injured."