Returning To School After SCI

Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via Shepherd Center
Shepherd Center
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

Will Bucher was a junior in high school when he was injured in a motorcycle accident paralyzing him from the chest down. Will began his rehabilitation with the Shepherd’s Center adolescent spinal cord injury program. Not only did the program focus on his physical rehabilitation goals they assisted Will in achieving his academic goals as well.

Will, in his cap and gown, at his high school graduation.

Shepherd Center helped facilitate Will’s back to school transition through a program called No Boundaries. Will graduated high school and now is off to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Shepherd Center was able to talk with Will before he left for college about transitioning back to school after a traumatic injury.

Anticipation Going Back To High School

The first question Will answered about transitioning back to school was “What’s something you didn’t anticipate when you went back to high school?” Will says he did not anticipate having issues with the physical layout of the classrooms.

“I didn’t realize the classrooms were as tightly packed as they were. So just getting around the class was hard – there are chairs and desks everywhere. I usually ended up sitting near the door so that I didn’t have to go deep into the class.”

Will also came to the realization that the elevator in his school would break down frequently. However, he states the school was great about handling the situation. For example, moving his classroom to the first floor when the elevator was broken down for two weeks.

Support System

Will states the Shepherd Center’s No Boundaries program was very helpful in making sure he got the correct accommodations at school. “I think Shepherd helped with that a lot. People at Shepherd called the school and told them what I’d need – wider desks, things like that” says Will. He goes on to say that if it was up to him he probably would not have pushed for the accommodations he needed.

Will still talks to his friends he made while at Shepherd Center. He says it is nice to have someone who can relate to all of the experiences of going back to school post-injury.


“With college, you have to self-identify – you have to make the first move to let them know what you need,” says Will. The accommodations are not automatically given like they are in high school, the student with the disability has to ask for them. For example, Will had to tell his school he was a paraplegic who needed an accessible dorm room.

Will suggests researching the disability services department to see what all is offered before deciding on which school to attend.

Will gives the following advice for making friends in college, “Don’t let the disability stop you. At first, I was timid about it. I thought everybody looked at me differently, that they didn’t want to do stuff with me or hang out. But there’s no point in worrying about it. I knew I was the same person. I acted the same. It was all in my head.”

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