Former Windham resident driven by his paralysis to achieve goals
Morris, 31, a former Windham resident, was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2007 car accident that injured his spine. He spent a month in the intensive care unit recovering from brain swelling and survived near-fatal pneumonia. Friends and neighbors rallied to support Morris emotionally and help raise funds to continue his therapy. Expenses surrounding spinal cord injuries average $66,000 annually and can cost more than $2 million over a lifetime, according to race director Lisa Cote.
Morris says the accident is the best thing that ever happened to him and he means it.
“It awoke this goal-driven person in me that wouldn’t have come out if it wasn’t for the accident,” Morris said.
Morris describes himself as the “best person ever to have to go through this.” Before the accident, he was a personal trainer and had completed his master’s degree in physical education, including a thesis on goal-setting.
He educated himself on the nervous system, spinal cord injuries, and how they affect the body. All the knowledge was applied to creating a plan that would help him reach his goals, Morris said.
His day begins at 3 a.m. with self-taught water therapy. Several times a week, Morris works out with a friend who is an exercise physiologist.
The results have been amazing. Morris has regained the ability to crawl along with partial movement through his hips. He is not quite standing well yet, but is working on it, he said.
This year, Morris became a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Much of his focus is on his own physical recovery, but he makes time to help other people with spinal cord injuries and their families. The injury can be mentally as well as physically traumatic, Morris said.
He recalls how difficult it was to overhear a rehab nurse tell his family he should get used to life in a wheelchair. Medical professionals offer a conservative view that can leave patients with a negative outlook, Morris said.
“I think they’re doing an incredible disservice to society if that’s what they have to offer,” Morris said.
He wants to help others reach the goals they set, whether it’s walking again or being the best person they can while still in a wheelchair, Morris said. He’s found that people can be a lot stronger than they think they are.
“Now I feel like I can truly help change lives, especially people with spinal cord injuries,” Morris said.
Morris is continuing his recuperation at a home he shares with his father in Hudson.
“I believe that you can do or be anything and anyone you want to be as long as you can successfully wrap your head around the challenge right and you’re willing to work for it,” Morris said. “And for me – I’ll do whatever it takes.”
The first Timothy Morris SCI Rehabilitation 5K Race/Walk starts at 9 a.m. on Aug. 11 at Windham High School.