SCI Superstar: Jessica Kruger

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By: Tiffiny | April 22nd, 2014 @ 12:28 am | SCI Superstars |

At only 21 years old, Jessica Kruger from Vancouver, Canada has already put a huge dent in her mission to change the way the world perceives beauty. Last year she put her hat in the ring for a nationwide modeling contest in Canada sponsored by Lise Watier, and she totally won.

Since winning, this college student and quad rugby player has been all over the news sharing her story and spreading the message that beauty can come in all forms. Get ready to be inspired by a woman dedicated to a higher mission that, as always, can be helped by a dress and a pair of Steve Madden heels.

Why she’s fearless

Jessica’s entrance into the spinal cord injury world was only 6 years ago. While working for a painting company when she was 15 years old, she fainted and fell from a ladder, breaking her neck in four different places. Although she has solid C7 movement, it’s been a tough road, especially in the beginning when she felt no one would see her as the old Jessica.

But Raj, an old friend from middle school, came to her bedside after her injury, and proved to her that he could still see her for who she really is. Not only did this uplift her spirits, but it forged a romantic relationship between the two that’s going strong till this day.

After high school, Jessica went on to attend one of the most prestigious schools in Canada, Simon Fraser University, where she’s in her fourth year studying literature. She also speaks for the Rick Hansen Institute as an ambassador, sharing her story and that life after spinal cord injury goes on.

Even early on in high school, Jessica exhibited a voice to be hard. In her short story, Conquered Fear, which she wrote for her English class, Jessica won a contest in Reader’s Digest that got her short story published. Check it out

A former athlete, Jessica also wanted to keep her body as active as possible, so she decided to partake in one of the toughest adapted sports out there – quad rugby. She’s currently the only female member on the British Columbia Provincial Wheelchair Rugby Team.

A self-proclaimed “girly-girl,” her participation on the team gives it a much needed dose of estrogen. Since she’s a part-time cupcake entrepreneur and cake decorator, Jessica brings treats to practice too. Cupcakes = the instant friend-maker. Umm…this alone would make me join the team.

And perhaps the coolest thing about Jessica is her title as 2013 spokesperson for the fragrance and makeup company giant, Lise Watier. It was a contest she didn’t expect to win (her friends brought up the idea that she should enter in fact).

Jessica had previously sent out modeling photos to agencies wanting to model a couple years prior, but she never heard back. Little does the modeling world know know how badly society is dying to see different types of beaut.

And yes Jessica won. The Lise Watier judges loved her confidence and story, beating 400 other contestants. Shocked and elated, it’s been a whirlwind for Jess too. She’s been promoting their latest perfume “Something Sweet,” which ironically goes hand in hand with her love of baking.

What’s next?

Getting more serious about quad rugby, Jessica’s next goal is to make it onto Canada’s Paralympic quad rugby team. Considering her age and level of injury, this is not a pipe dream in the least. Working out several times a week, she’s eying the Paralympic games in Rio in 2016.

Changing minds as a spokesperson, flying all over Canada making appearances at department stores, I’m sure Jessica is having a ball. An avid traveler who’s been to 43 countries, this is right up her alley. Jessica has also put out her feelers for more modeling opportunities. I would love to see another makeup company sign her to prove this wasn’t a one-time/rare thing.

More than anything, Jessica winning this national spokesperson contract for Lise Watier is remolding preconceived notions of beauty. She’s changing how the world views us, and this is one of the coolest things to happen in the modeling world in Canada quite a long time.

- Learn more about Jessica from Chatelaine: What it feels like to be a wheelchair rugby playing beauty ambassador

- Jessica Kruger for the Huffington Post: “Help Me Show the World ‘Different’ Is Beautiful”

Would you have the guts to enter a modeling contest?

Watch her videos!

- Model/athlete Jessica Kruger on The Rush Speaking About Modeling for Lise Watier

- myVancouver Wheelchair Rugby: Jessica Kruger

- Jessica Kruger interviewed at home, and a clip of her winning the contest

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Give That Skin Some Love, and Pressure Relief

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By: Tiffiny | April 17th, 2014 @ 6:04 pm | Feature stories |


Possibly one of the most annoying tasks that come with paralysis is pressure relief. No matter how time consuming and hard it can be, there’s no getting around it; it simply must be done. If you don’t, you could get a pressure sore that could leave you bedridden for months.

Most of us unfortunately learn the hard way about how important pressure relief is. We end up with skin breakdown, and before we know it we’re on our sides in bed, staring at a laptop screen and binge watching some mediocre television show. It is a living hell to be sure.

This is why learning the pressure relief techniques that can be done in a wheelchair is hugely important no matter your level of injury. Read on for three different pressure relief techniques, each tailored for a specific SCI level.

Video #1: The Easiest Method of All – Tilt

If you are someone who has limited movement, then you will certainly appreciate our first video from Abraham Lukens, a C3 quadriplegic from La Porte, Texas paralyzed just last August while playing volleyball in the water (he dove to catch a ball, but the water was too shallow).

Since his injury, he’s been on the long and arduous learning curve us veteran SCIers know well, and he’s got pressure relief down pat; a very good place to start. Because of his level of injury, tilting back is the only way to go.

In his short video, he shows exactly how he tilts all the way back and rests there for 2 minutes, which it is something he must do every hour to maintain good skin. Watch his demo video

Video #2: The Fabulous Forward Lean

Our second video comes from, a website sponsored by the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research. They’ve made dozens of videos showing how to be independent as a wheelchair-user, and in this video they show how to do pressure relief in a power wheelchair by leaning forward.

A technique that should only be attempted by those who know they can get themselves back upright, it shows how to lean forward onto your knees to achieve pressure relief around the buttocks and tailbone. This should be done for 30 seconds every 30 minutes.

It also shows a different way to do this that can feel great – leaning forward onto a piece of furniture, such as a countertop or table – to achieve the forward lean safely and to get a great back stretch while you’re at it. Watch how it’s done

Video #3: For Strong-Armed People Only

In our last video, also created by the National Institute on Disability, we get to see one of the most effective pressure relief techniques out there, but one that can only be done by people with full arm movement – The Pushup.

This technique has you either push up from your armrest or wheels to completely elevate your butt from the seat, and to hold the lift for either 30 seconds every 30 minutes or 15 seconds every 15 minutes; either works just fine.

And while doing this uber-strong lift, make sure to lock in your elbows so you don’t stress out your muscles. Watch the Pushup in action

No matter how hard it is or weird you look, always ALWAYS consider pressure relief your top priority. When your skin is healthy, everything else follows suit, and you will never have to think about how go keep your mind sane while on bed rest.

How do you prefer getting pressure relief?

Watch the videos!

- Quadriplegic showing how to use tilt for pressure relief

- How to do forward lean pressure relief in a powerchair

- The traditional method paras do pressure relief in a manual chair


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