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Updated: September 04, 2023

Christopher Reeve advocating for people with a disability Throughout his life, Christopher Reeve spoke publicly about his wish to walk again by his 50th birthday. This claim was not always well received by doctors, scientists and disability advocates as they said it raised false hopes for others who had spinal cord injuries. This is because when most body parts get injured, theyre able to regenerate " but this isnt the case for the spinal cord. Even so, Reeve did make some surprising progress.

Some five to seven years after his accident and through trialling different treatments, he began to see slight but remarkable changes. While he never achieved his goal of walking again, he did regain some movement in his fingers and toes, could feel a pin prick anywhere on his body, and tell the difference between hot and cold temperatures. Reeve became a fierce advocate for people with a disability. After his accident, Reeve became Americas leading advocate for spinal cord injury research.

He also worked tirelessly to promote medical advances, especially for controversial stem cell research. His hope was that one day they would find a cure for paralysis and other illnesses, such as diabetes, Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease. When John Kennedy promised that by the end of the 1960s we would put a man on the moon, Reeve told Time’ magazine, everybody, including the scientists, shook their heads in dismay. But we did it. We can cure spinal-cord injuries too, if theres the will. What was possible in outer space is possible in inner space.

One of his many legacies is the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which has raised tens of millions of dollars for research. He also opened the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center, which is devoted to teaching people with paralysis to live more independently.

While his dream of being able to heal paralysis is not a reality yet, you never know what the future holds.

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