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Stony Brook University Program Gets Paralyzed Patients Out Of Wheelchairs

LIDO BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A program on Long Island is getting paralyzed patients out of their wheelchairs and into activities they never thought possible, CBS 2's Marlie Hall reported.

Jackie Colby told CBS 2 she is thrilled to be back on a surfboard.

"It was absolutely amazing. It was the best natural high I've ever had in my life," she said.

The 29-year-old former athlete and surfer was paralyzed last year after falling off the roof of her home, Hall reported.

Now, Colby is part of the "Empower Spinal Cord Injury" program at Stony Brook University that brings activities as sports back into the lives of those with spinal cord injuries. As CBS 2 reported, the program gives participants the opportunity to surf, kayak, cycle and dance.

"It just takes them to a place they never thought they could be at one point before," Stony Brook University Assistant Clinical Professor of Occupational Therapy Mary Squillace said.

Squillace said the program gives patients both a mental and physical boost.

"It's definitely great for their endurance, great for their trunk control, muscle strength," Squillace said.

Patient Joe Preti said he was apprehensive about surfing, CBS 2 reported.

"Once I was out there, the water was very peaceful. It was beautiful," he said.

The 63-year-old patient said the two-week program has shown him just how much is possible.

"We've done kayaking, we've done hand cycling, we've done surfing. The whole combination of the experiences that we've had has just really made me more alive," Preti said.

Hall reported the program is now in its second year and accepts paralyzed patients from all over the country.

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