Heather Whitener

heatherFor Heather Whitener, the simple act of standing is extraordinarily peaceful and liberating.

The Dayton, Ohio resident was the recipient of a grant of $3,400 for a standing frame. Whitener had read that standing was excellent for people with spinal cord injuries.

She deals with osteoporosis and finds that being able to stand really helps the aches of her bones and joints.

At eighteen years old, Whitener fractured two vertebrae in her neck when she dove into her friends pool in 1993. She now embraces the opportunity to be able to stand while doing a number of things in her daily routine like reading or watching television

“Mentally, it’s amazing,” Whitener said. “I hadn’t stood for 17 years. When I got up in the standing frame for the first time it was amazing…Knowing that I’m doing something healthy for my body makes me feel good.”

Whitener tries to use her frame two-to-three times a week. At first she was only able to use it for 20 minutes at a time, but has gradually increased her time in the frame to an hour. She hopes to be able to use it even more in the coming months.

The stand has wheels and is very easy to move from room to room in her house, allowing her to easily change the location of her standing activity if needed. Whitener is incredibly grateful for what the Foundation has been able to provide.

“It’s a great opportunity…to find [an organization] like the Travis Roy Foundation,” Whitener said. “Just knowing that there is something out there that can help [spinal cord injury survivors] is unbelievable…it’s great to know that there are no dead ends. There are a lot of paths you can take to get what you want and the Travis Roy Foundation is a big part of that.”

As somebody who loved athletics prior to her injury, Whitener does everything she can to stay active. In addition to using the standing frame, Whitener also loves to use her electrical stimulation cycle.

The cycles are made for people with neurological impairment, hooking up electrodes to parts of the body and stimulating their neurons in order to get the pedals moving.

Whitener is an accomplished writer who has done stories for Dangerwood (survivingparalysis.com), a web site for those with spinal cord injuries to communicate with one another and work through the initial difficulties of coping with their injuries. She has a Masters Degree in Community Counseling from Wright State and hopes to eventually do work as a professional counselor.

Whitener stresses staying healthy for those with spinal cord injuries and notes that it can only happen with the right equipment.

“My main goal is to stay healthy,” Whitener notes. “Many SCI people run into issues with health. If I don’t take care of myself now then there is not a future to look forward to.”