Mike’s Story – Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Apr 12, 2021

Client Spotlight: The Impact of Your Dollars

Last Christmas Carolyn found Mike at the bottom of their stairs with no vital signs. Paramedics were able to revive him, he lost vital signs again on the way to the hospital, but they were able to revive him once more. Mike and Carolyn would soon learn that Mike had sustained a spinal cord injury and their lives would be changed forever.

Carolyn Woodward: “The early days were quite a blur for us, I was dealing with the emotions of such a devastating accident and Mike was not really aware of details … Mike was periodically coherent … I wasn’t sure what the future held and couldn’t imagine a future without him by my side.”

In those early days Stephanie Bolton reached out to Mike and Carolyn to assure them that she and Spinal Cord Injury Ontario were there for them and would help them navigate the healthcare system and their support options. Stephanie talked to Mike and Catherine about their goals and how she and Spinal Cord Injury Ontario could help them build towards them.

Carolyn explains: “Stephanie has many connections and people she can reach out to. And she told us that she would help us connect the dots to where we want to go.” Spinal Cord Injury Ontario Regional Service Coordinators like Stephanie help people from the time they sustain a spinal cord injury through recovery and rehab to building a life of independence and choice.

Stephanie: “For example, sometimes when I meet people, they’ve already been given assistive technology supports. But Mike had been told it would be a year or two. I knew we could do better than that and got moving on setting up his assessments.”

Mike is now equipped with speech input software and an eye tracking input device that he can use to direct a mouse pointer. The assistive technology has helped him reclaim some independence and boosted his outlook. He is able to email family and friends and research on the internet. Another small blessing is that the equipment allows Mike to again pursue his love of reading. He now can pass some of the long hours in hospital reading independently without the assistance of others.

Mike’s goal is to get back home. “I want to go home, but the resources and care needed for me to be on a ventilator at home would be prohibitive,” says Mike. “So, getting off the vent is my first step.”

To support this step, Stephanie connected Mike and Carolyn with a previous SCIO client who has successfully come off a ventilator, so they could learn from his experience. This young man had undergone a rare surgery to implant a diaphragm pacing system designed to help normal breathing by electronically stimulating the diaphragm muscles and nerves.

Mike went ahead with the surgery in July and has since been going through a ‘weaning’ process to get him off the ventilator. He has gone from being able to be off the ventilator for only minutes to recently being able to be off it for four hours twice a day. He continues to work towards being “vent free”.

“This is not the future we had planned, but we’re now changing the plan,” say Mike and Carolyn “With Mike’s hard work and determination, we are pushing forward to make it the best we can make it. We’re looking forward to what the New Year will bring and are hoping for a brighter 2019.”

“Stephanie has added to our support network. She is another friend who is part of Mike’s journey and someone I can rely on. She has truly been a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel, helping us to navigate, always with a smile on her face and a funny story to share.”

Mike, Carolyn and their family are still on their journey and Stephanie and Spinal Cord Injury Ontario are there for them.

Each day in Ontario someone like Mike begins one of the world’s most challenging journeys.  You can make a lasting impact in their life and the lives of their family by making certain they have help in their time of need.

For general questions, please contact:


Sarah Wood

Executive Director
tel: 437-925-6227
email: sarah.wood2@ontario.ca


315 Front St. West, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON
M7A 0B8

© 2023 | Federated Health Charities. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Designed by Cristhian Arevalo Leon.