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June 2015 E-News

With Summer approaching find out what's happening at  Mount Sinai 

Now that summer is just around the corner, it's time to come out and get involved in some of the Mount Sinai Programs that are offered

For comments or story ideas please contact Jim Cesario.
Mount Sinai
Holds Sexuality Conference
"From Injury to Intimacy"

On May 14 and 15, at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Hess Center on East 103rd Street in Manhattan, a two day conference "From Injury to Intimacy"on SCI Sexuality was held.The event was sponsored by Independence Care System, Mount Sinai Hospital, and the New York City Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association"From Injury to Intimacy" attracted an overflow crowd of people in wheelchairs, including dozens of ICS members, their partners, and health care professionals from area SCI centers. The keynote speaker and master of ceremonies was noted disability sexologist Dr. Mitchell Tepper, author of a new book on SCI and sex called Regain the Feeling: Secrets to Self-Discovery. If there was any one message Dr. Tepper hoped to convey it was this: Yes, there is sex after SCI, and it is most pleasurable between partners who love and care about each other

Personal Knowledge
Dr. Tepper comes to his knowledge of the subject not just from books (though his education from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania probably didn’t hurt). In 1982, Dr. Tepper sustained a cervical SCI in a diving accident at Lake Mohegan in his home state of Connecticut that rendered him quadriplegic.  During his initial rehabilitation, one of his first concerns was, would he have children? His doctor told him his chances were less than 10 percent. “That was it,” Tepper writes in his book. “There was no acknowledgment of my sexual concerns, no follow-up questions, no discussion about other changes in sexual response I might experience…no offer of hope for the sexual future.”
During a lively panel discussion moderated by Dr. Angela Riccobono of Mount Sinai on the first evening of the conference, it became apparent that all these years later, physicians are still stingy with useful information about sex during the acute stages of SCI. Several panelists, male and female, said the extent of their formal sex education was a single pamphlet or a video handed to them that they were told to watch when they had a chance.
Myths and Facts
That is one of several common myths Dr. Tepper said he hoped to dispel with the conference and his book. Many people with SCI believe that their disability makes them undesirable sexually, and this fear is often reinforced when their partner at the time of injury leaves or cheats. Many believe sex is a luxury, and that they should focus on things that are more important. 
On Friday, Dr. Tepper and Mount Sinai’s Dr. Jennifer Gomez shed light on medical aspects of sex after SCI. Dr. Tepper outlined the development of ideas about human sexuality since the revolutionary work of Masters and Johnson in the 1950s. Since then, sex researchers have moved from a mechanical idea of sex to one more centered in human psychology and sociology. 
Experiment and Explore
The audience was later treated to a series of sensual experiments based on the ancient Indian practices of yoga and tantra, led by Dr. Tepper and Rebecca Tarosian, an intimacy expert based in New York City. 

On Friday afternoon, each attendee received a goody bag of sex toys, then was placed into groups to compose erotic stories using items from their bags. The catch: No “sex” allowed. This restriction encouraged participants to use their imaginations and to expand the idea of what sex can be.
A final segment of the conference featured demonstrations,by occupational therapist Lauren Varriale, of various assistive technologies to enable people with disabilities to have sex that is both pleasurable and safe. 
By the end of the conference, the attendees were clearly having a lot of fun, though, perhaps, some of the laughter was more nervous than ribald. Dr. Tepper acknowledged that sex is a difficult subject for many people. It can cause embarrassment, discomfort or, worse, shame. This makes it especially hard for people with SCI to get the important information they need and want about sex during their rehabilitation.
“My mission is to normalize sex,” Dr. Tepper said. ”I hope someday we can treat it as another activity of daily living. ~Excerpts Appeared in ICS e-news and written by Christofer Pierson~ 
SCI Awareness 5K
More than 100 people came out to Prospect Park, Brooklyn on May 30th to run, walk and roll for the 2nd Annual SCI Awareness 5K.  A community event organized by 5 of NYC's leading SCI non-profits: The Alan T Brown Foundation, The Greater NY Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, Wheeling Forward, Wheels of Progress and the Wheelchair Sports Federation to help bring awareness to spinal cord injury and prevention and raise funds for local SCI programs like Mount Sinai’s SCI Life Challenge, W.O.W. – women’s peer support group and the Axis Project.  It was a day filled with smiles, sunshine and fun competition.
4 Wheel City Comes To Mount Sinai
4 Wheel City is an entertainment organization started by Namel “Tapwaterz”Norris and Ricardo “Rickfire” Velasquez two talented hip-hop artists and motivational speakers who incurred spinal cord injuries due to gun violence. Both Namel and Rick were patients of Mount Sinai Hospital. Their mission is to use hip-hop music and culture to create more opportunities for the disabled and inspire people not to give up in life. 4 Wheel City performs original music as well as motivational speaking at hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers.

This past May, the boys paid a visit to the inpatient unit at Mount Sinai and performed some of their music at our Wednesday Transitions Support Group. While on the unit, Namel and Rick spoke to the patients about how they handled their injury as well as the message of not giving up in life despite their injury.

Both Rick and Namel are mentors with the Mount Sinai Outreach Program and have reached out and spoken to many people with SCI through out the years.

Life Challenge Upcoming Events
Sky Dive-New Paltz, N.Y.-June 26, 2015
JetSki-Para Sailing-Lake George-August 27-29, 2015
Team Challenge –Fall (A Weekend of Self Discovery and Adventure)
For info or to reserve a spot, contact Jim Cesario.
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Mount Sinai Dept. Rehab. Medicine, 3 East 101st Street, New York, NY 10029, 212.824.8369

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