Clinic best place for Rogers

By Bonitta Best
Updated: December 14, 2008

DURHAM, N.C. — Rodney Rogers is in good hands.

The former ACC Player of the Year, who was critically injured in an ATV accident two weeks ago, is now at the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta.

Although his family wants to keep his condition as private as possible, sources close to them say Rogers is paralyzed from the neck down.

He is in good hands.

The Shepherd Clinic is a private, not-for-profit hospital that treats spinal cord and brain injuries, and acute pain resulting from back surgery, fractures, whiplash, cancer and other neuromuscular problems.

This past summer, the center was named one of the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.Not only is Shepherd ranked among the best, its founder can empathize with every patient that walks through its doors.

In 1973, James Shepherd set out on a backpacking trip around the world. While bodysurfing off a beach in Rio de Janeiro, a wave slammed his body against the ocean floor.

22 years old at the time, Shepherd was paralyzed from the neck down. After seven months of intensive rehabilitation, he regained his ability to walk by using a cane and a leg brace.

Dissatisfied with rehabilitative centers in the Southeast, in ’75 he founded Shepherd Center, a six-bed facility operating out of an Atlanta hospital. Today, the center houses 120 patients along with therapy gyms and treatment rooms, a cafeteria and dining room. More than 850 patients are admitted each year, with 30,000 more treated at outpatient clinics.

Rogers is in good hands.

Though still unconscious when he left Duke Hospital last week, sources say he is awake though unable to talk. Hopefully, one day, God willing, he will talk, move, cry, laugh and walk again.

Along that long and painful journey, maybe he’ll meet former Shepherd clients like Atlanta high school football player Milton Oshay Johnson who shattered his spine on a football tackle and wasn’t expected to live. He’s now in a motorized wheelchair with some feeling in his upper body.

But he’s alive and still living with hope every day.

Or maybe he’ll meet Danielle Bone who had to relearn everything from walking to talking to reading after suffering a brain injury in an SUV accident.

Or maybe he’ll meet Teal Sherer who had to adjust to teenage life in a wheelchair. “Friends tell me all the time that they forget I’m in a wheelchair. They just forget,” Sherer said.

“It’s all about attitude and personality. No matter what your situation, if you have a great attitude, other people pick up on it.”

Or maybe he’ll meet…the list could go on and on. There’s a long hard road ahead for Rogers but one thing is for certain, he’s in two pairs of good hands: God’s and Shepherd Clinic’s.