Spinal Cord Injury Spotlight: Matt Coiro's Story of Strength

ParticipantThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 200,000 people currently living with spinal cord injury (SCI) in the United States.  Through rehabilitation programs such as NeuroRestorative Avalon Park, Matt Coiro and other individuals with SCI learn the skills they need to rebuild their lives.  

One morning in December of 2008 Matt Coiro was on his way to work, commuting by bicycle to his job in IT, where he had worked for 25 years.  Matt’s bike suddenly hit the unmarked ledge of a storm drain on the bike path he was riding on, sending him over the handle bars and leaving him with a spinal cord injury.  After receiving rehabilitative care at several other programs, Matt came to NeuroRestorative Avalon Park’s day treatment program for six weeks, during which time he worked on strength training and increasing his functional skill level.

Prior to the accident, Matt was an athlete in every sense of the word.  He regularly worked out at the gym, biked and kayaked.  Matt participated in several kayak races, including the 52-mile Suwannee River Challenge and Marathon, and the 68-mile WaterTribe Ultra Marathon.  It was not uncommon for Matt and his wife, Stephanie, to bike 40 miles together on a Sunday.  Today Matt is channeling the focus and endurance he once reserved for athletics, to meet his rehabilitative goals. 

“I set little goals for myself that are attainable.  I try to focus on the things I can do and not dwell on what I can no longer do,” said Matt. 

“The key to success is empowering SCI participants to help them regain a sense of control over their lives,” said Robin M. Kohn, MSW, LCSW, a social worker who has worked with individuals with spinal cord injury for more than 25 years.  “Once they can establish their own routine that works for them, it is a great feeling.”

Matt started driving again last December using a medically-adapted van, allowing him the freedom of not having to rely on others to drive him places.  He is currently searching for part-time employment doing IT helpdesk support.  Although things are different than they were before his injury, Matt chooses to keep a positive outlook on life.  He says what keeps him motivated is the support of his family and friends. 

“Stephanie has been my biggest advocate,” said Matt of his wife. “My sister has been incredible as well.  I never knew how many friends I had until I was injured.”

The effects of a SCI can be devastating and the road to recovery long.  Successful rehabilitation programs such as NeuroRestorative Avalon Park offer an effective and flexible continuum of care that provides individually tailored programs and services.  To take a virtual tour of NeuroRestorative Avalon Park, the only transitional living facility designed specifically to meet the needs of individuals with SCI and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in Florida, click here.