Christopher Reeve: A Decade After His Death, Son Sees Dad's Dream Being Realized

Pam WrightLife

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Christopher Reeve’s son, Matthew Reeve, has a dream, and it's the same dream his father worked so tirelessly to bring to reality — a day when the world is rid of wheelchairs.

Matthew Reeve has continued to work as passionately as his father to search for answers to irreparable spinal cord injuries since his father's death in 2004.

Following a 1995 horse riding accident that left Christopher Reeve paralyzed from the neck down, the Superman star founded an organization with his wife, Dana Reeve, and countless others, to find a cure for spinal cord injuries.

There has been much progress over the past decade since Christopher Reeve died, although there is still a long road to go before a cure is found. However, Matthew Reeve told Yahoo News the latest breakthroughs would have “excited” his father.

“When my father was first injured almost 20 years ago, spinal cord injury research was considered a dead end. Since then, we’ve made incredible progress,” he said.

The greatest advancement in helping those with spinal-cord injuries has been on the technical side, with many new devices targeted at helping the paralyzed move and function once again. These include spine stimulation, brain-computer interfaces, and exoskeletons.

One such device, called epidural spine stimulation, has been very successful in restoring movement to four paralyzed people who were part of a trial program.

Matthew Reeve explained to Live Science that the device “reawakens the spinal cord and reminds of its potential. Right now, it’s the most promising therapy today.”

Kent Stephenson, a Texan who was paralyzed in a Motocross accident, is part of the trial program.

“When I came out of the hospital, they basically gave me a bag of medicine, a stretching routine and a wheelchair, and that was it,” said Stephenson. But having the spinal stimulation device has “(given) me the ability to take a step forward and overcome my paralysis.”

With so much promise, the Reeve Foundation has now announced a new campaign, called The Big Idea, with a goal of raising $15 million dollars in order to involve 36 others who have suffered spinal cord injuries in the clinical trial of the device.

Matthew Reeve said it wasn't a stretch for him to become so passionate about the research and investing his time to help find a cure that would eliminate wheelchairs. He was a teenager when his father was injured, and it became a part of his family's identity.

“It was a big part of all of our lives,” Matthew Reeve says of himself and his siblings, all of whom are involved with supporting the Reeve Foundation. “It’s a huge honor to continue the work he started. I don’t come close to being as effective as he was, in terms of raising money and increasing awareness and his advocacy efforts, but it’s a cause that’s close to my heart… We’re one step closer to (Christopher Reeve’s) vision of a world of empty wheelchairs.”

Pam Wright