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10 Famous People Affected With Quadriplegia

10 Famous People Affected With Quadriplegia
Invisible shackle that constricts the body movements of the sufferer, quadriplegia is paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury. Historyplex features some famous people affected with quadriplegia.
Sai Kardile
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Did you know?
Widely acclaimed physicist, Stephen Hawking has made guest appearances in 'The Big Bang Theory', 'The Simpsons', and "Star Trek: The Next Generation" as himself.
The spinal cord is the most significant part of our body as it acts like a conduit between our brain and our body. Appearance-wise, spinal cord is like a long tubular structure that comprises millions of nerve fibers that facilitate circulation of neural signals between the brain and other parts of our body. In other words, its functioning is akin to that of a communication system- with the brain doing all the decoding work; receiving information from various parts of our body, construing it, and as a feedback, telling the body how to react. Had it not been for the spinal cord's presence, we probably would have never understood that we are supposed to take our hand off a hot cup.

When something this cardinal is injured or damaged, its implications are bound to involve long-lasting and catastrophic repercussions on the body, and quadriplegia is one such effect. Quadriplegia is an aftermath of trauma to the spinal cord that ends up in either partial or complete paralysis of limbs (trunk arms, legs, and hands), and torso. When the connecting link is broken, the entire communication system is compromised, and in this case unbearable pressure is borne down on the central nervous system that leads to impairment of movement and sensation.

Car accidents, crash, falls, sport injuries, etc. are common causes of quadriplegia that inflict serious injuries on the spinal cord. There are many popular celebrities, actors, athletes, etc., who withstood quadriplegia and never gave up the spirit of living.
Christopher Reeve
Christopher Reeve
Best remembered for the portrayal of comic book superhero, 'Superman', Christopher Reeve became quadriplegic after he met with a fateful accident at an equestrian competition in 1995. Such was the impact of the accident that Reeve was not only rendered chair-ridden but also became respirator-bound for the rest of his life.
His acting career followed an amazing trajectory - for he acted in different genres, penned script, and was involved in television and stage. But that accident totally disarrayed his life. Nonetheless, with his indissoluble spirit and support of his family and friends, he prevailed over his condition and became a proponent of stem cell research, along with wife Dana.
He also founded the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which is devoted to finding treatments for disabled people. Reeve resumed acting and went on to directing two movies, but died in 2004 at the age of 52 following a cardiac arrest.
Curtis Mayfield
Soul and funk composer, rhythm and blues singer, songwriter, and producer, Curtis Mayfield is best known for his racially reflective soundtrack, Superfly. He was an artist, who through his songs like People Who Are Darker Than Blue" and "We're A Winner" brought civil rights movement to the pop charts. His virtuosic side gained him inclusion in the American music group, The Impressions with whom he gave some of the most remarkable hits of his career.
In 1970, Curtis set out on a solo career and went on to creating popular songs with 'ethnic issues' as leitmotif. However, his world turned upside-down after he got struck by lighting rig while performing at an outdoor concert. That accident left him quadriplegic and confined him to supine position for the rest of his life. Despite his fast-failing health, he continued recording vocals but died in 1999 from diabetes and paralysis at the age of 57.
Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Notable British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and holder of the most esteemed academic post in the University of Cambridge (seventeenth Lucasian Professor of Mathematics); Stephen Hawking is world-renowned for his scientific contribution in the fields of general relativity and cosmology. His work especially in the area of black holes is deemed a breakthrough in theoretical physics.
In 1963, at the age of 21, Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). His health exacerbated eventually and rendered him quadriplegic, causing him to lose control of his body altogether.
In 1985, he had to undergo tracheotomy because of pneumonia and ever since he has been using speech synthesizer to communicate. Despite his severe medical condition, Hawking didn't let his dreams get hobnailed and became the first ever quadriplegic to participate in a zero-gravity flight.
Darren Drozdov
Former football player and professional wrestler, Darren Drozdov has competed in NFL, the WWF, and ECW. In 1999, he became quadriplegic after his opponent's 'powerbomb' wrestling maneuver went awry.
Drozdov, owing to his repulsive ability to upchuck on command led to his christening as 'Puke'. Although Puke was pronounced quadriplegic after the wrestling mishap, he has been able to retrieve control and sensation over his upper body. Drov may not be able to get into the ring and go over an opponent anymore, but he is involved out of the ring as an essayist. He now works as a journalist for WWE and also makes appearances on the WWE Byte This!
Roy Campanella
Considered as one of the most skillful catchers in baseball, Roy Campanella became a sensation at a time when there was bigotry against African-American players. But his exceptional dexterity at catching got him to play in major leagues and that too, in a position which was predominantly thought as "white position". Known as 'campy' by his friends, he won the National League's Most Valuable Player (MVP) award three times in the 1950s.
His flourishing career came to a halt after he met with a car accident that left him to endure quadriplegia for the remainder of his life. Notwithstanding his disability, Campy managed to stay in the game through mentoring and coaching. His outstanding ability behind home plate inducted him into the Baseball Hall. However, he bid farewell to the world after a heart attack in 1993 at the age of 72.
Teddy Pendergrass
An African-American R&B and gospel singer, Teddy Pendergrass captivated many with his distinct baritone and stylish charisma. A quintessential R&B singer, Pendergrass vowed millions with his sensually coarse 1972 hit "If You Don't Know Me By Now". His big break came with Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in the 1970s with whom he gave a slew of hits of his career.
His solo career that began around 1977 was equally edifying and became a booming sensation with women for his commingling of romantic songs with his sexy presence. In 1982, Pendergrass found himself in an unfortunate car accident that damaged his spinal cord severely and made him a quadriplegic. Notwithstanding his disability, he recommenced his career and dished out a series of gold and platinum albums. He died in 2010 at the age of 59.
Vic Chesnutt
Folk rock singer and songwriter, Vic Chestnutt was known for his emotionally charged songs that bequeathed words with his inner laceration and life experiences. His voice effused honesty and embellished his melodic accomplishments.
He started writing from the age of five and his obstinacy with words yielded lyrically literate songs like "Wallace Stevens" (cleverly written around Wallace Stevens famous poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Blackbird"), New Town, Square Room, etc,. Chesnutt became a quadriplegic at the age of 18 after a car accident.
Chestnutt's songs are humorous, witty, and are results of his quirky visions that are created on different textures and experimented with unpredictable sound-scapes. Despite his popularity, he was beleaguered with financial crisis and couldn't cover his medical expenses. In 2009, he died at the age of 45, from an overdose of pain killers.
Chuck Close
Chuck Close is a renowned American painter who is known for his signature painterly technique of large-scale photo-realism. His attention to minutiae details beggars description. His paintings meld two dichotomous concepts of realism and abstraction- in which he attempts to compose faces by meticulously assembling them by means of shimmering lozenges and jewel like elements in a grid.
What comes as a surprise is a fact that in spite of being affected with Prognosticator (face blindness), Close is exceptionally fastidious in terms of understanding and precise rendering of faces that remain faithful to their photographic images. Close became a quadriplegic after his spinal artery ruptured. Close is harangued by a host of other medical complications but it is his insatiable thirst for his art that keeps him going.
Sam Schmidt
An erstwhile Indy Racing League Driver and entrepreneur, Sam Schmidt became quadriplegic in 2000 while practicing at the Walt Disney World Speedway. Schmidt's scholastic bent is known through his BS in Business Administration and an MBA in International Finance.
He inherits his car racing passion from his father, who was a drag racing competitor. He broke into the racing scene by competing regionally at SCCA events in 1992 and won the SCCA National Championship in 1993. His ultimate objective was to compete in the Indy 500 and on his journey to actualize his dream, he began driving as a professional driver in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series where he finished 3rd in points and earned Rookie of the Year award. As an Indy car driver he cinched his first victory in 1999 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Schmidt may never be able to race again but his love for his sport inspired him to found Sam Schmidt Motorsports, a team that has netted the most number of victories in the history of the Firestone Indy Lights Series. He has also formed Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation that raises funds for the disabled.
Elena Mukhina
A phenomenal gymnast, Elena Mukhina was rendered a quadriplegic in 1980 after she under-rotated Thomas Salto (a dangerous floor exercise in artistic gymnastics). Mukhina was drawn to gymnastics from an early age and rose to prominence under the tutelage of men's coach Mikhail Voronin, who changed her markedly into a show-stopping gymnast. Her signature move was a modified Korbut Flip (she added full twist to it) on uneven bars.
She won three European titles at the continental championships in Prague in 1976. Her breakthrough performance came with 1978 World Championships in Strasbourg, France in which she netted 5 medals, including the all round title. Mukhina died in 2006 after complexions from quadriplegia at the age of 46.
Some other famous people with quadriplegia are Brooke Ellison, Darryl Stingley, Steven Fletcher, John Callahan, Mike Utley, and Matt Hampson. When they were dispossessed of their mobility, they all could have lived a life of despondency. But they chose not to, and therein lies their greatness. With acceptance comes greater strength; all the above great people coped with their disability and continued to contribute to their respective fields. Today they shine brightly as ever through their deeds and spirit of life.