Feature Archive

Christopher Reeve's Legacy of Research

Actor and quadriplegic Christopher Reeve inspired people to work harder to find a cure for spinal cord injuries.

By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario

Oct. 11, 2004 -- He became the public face of people living with paralysis, working tirelessly to promote research into spinal cord injury while waging his own tireless battle to walk again. Christopher Reeve had been confined to a wheelchair for just under 10 years when he died this week, but experts say his impact will be felt for decades to come.

"Christopher Reeve will be remembered as someone who changed the world's perception about spinal cord injury," says Marc Buoniconti of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, who is also paralyzed.

His longtime doctor, John W. McDonald, MD, says Christopher Reeve continued to recover motor function up until his death. The two made headlines two years ago on the eve of the actor and paralysis advocate's 50th birthday by announcing he had regained some feeling and could move isolated parts of his body.

"A big part of Chris' legacy is the demonstration that recovery of function is possible long after injury," McDonald tells WebMD. "And there is a lot of hope for a cure out there, which certainly was not the case 10 years ago."

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