By Tiffiny Carlson
Every girl wants the freedom of throwing up her hair whenever she pleases, but when your fingers are paralyzed, even partially, this is something you have to give up (quite painfully I might add). But Elizabeth Kolbe, 25, a C6-7 quadriplegic woman studying law at Stanford University, refused to accept her no-pony-tail fate and figured out a way to put her hair up independently after working on a technique for about 2 years. By combining the right lean and moving her hands and manipulating her paralyzed fingers just so, her pony tail technique works.
As a C6-7 quadriplegic woman, Kolbe can move her arms almost normally, and she has about 10% finger function; certainly not enough to just throw her air up thoughtlessly whenever she wants to. She can move her thumb on her left hand and her left index finger, as well as some lower hand tendons. But as her video of her showing off her technique shows, once she’s in the right position and has her hair in the exact place she needs, everything falls into place and she can get her ponytail up in less than a minute.
Unfortunately, since my injury is at the C5-6 level (one level above Kolbe’s) her technique won’t work for me. But despite only C6-7 quads being the only people who can really use the information exactly the way it‘s laid out, it also has another, much bigger lesson: It shows that whatever your injury level, you should make the most of every muscle movement, even if it’s only a flicker, because you never know what you may be able to figure out. The ability of humans to think their way out of almost any situation, even if it takes years, will astound you.
Reprinted with permission by SPINALpedia.comAbout the author: Tiffiny Carlson is a freelance writer from Minneapolis. She has a C6 spinal cord injury from a diving accident from when she was 14 years old and has degree in Mass Communications from Augsburg College. Tiff has her own website, BeautyAbility.com and is SPINALpedia.com’s official blogger writing about all about all aspects of life with paralysis.
SPINALpedia.com is a free user-generated how-to video network for people with paralysis and their supporters to connect and learn from each other. There are thousands of videos available –from the basics (getting dressed in the morning) to the extreme (adapted skydiving)—all able to be filtered by the physical mobility of the users, making searches efficient. Their mission is to empower more people with paralysis with the tools to adapt their lives and re-enter society as active citizens.