“Having the injury itself was an exposure that I can’t describe. It exposed me to a whole new world. After this injury, you’re thrown into this world where you have no idea. You feel isolated. You feel alone.”

Almost 30 years ago, when Trevor Dyson-Hudson, MD, was set to enter his fourth year of medical school, he suffered a spinal cord injury. Paralyzed, unable to feel, and left in a state he never believed he would be in, he went looking for help. What he found was the spinal cord injury model system.

This system of health care professionals provided Dyson-Hudson with comfort knowing that there are teams of clinicians dedicated to helping people with his very injury. After a grueling experience overcoming challenges and rehabilitation, he was finally able to return to himself, his schooling, and ultimately his life. This experience has since shaped him into the career he has today.

Now, almost 3 decades later, Dyson-Hudson is the director of the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Research and co-director of the Spinal Cord Injury Model System Center at Kessler Foundation. He and his colleagues are doing work to help those who were in a similar position to him, with a particular edge—his unique knowledge of the injury they treat. As such, the researchers there are focused not only on improving care for these individuals, but addressing the secondary, and often unspoken, complications of spinal cord injury.

In an interview with NeurologyLive, Dyson-Hudson shared his perspective on how the establishment of proper spinal injury model systems can help patients get back to their lives and provide them some semblance of normalcy. He also spoke to the advantages that specialized care can provide and how his experiences have shaped his work.