Writing Sample: Event Coverage

Independence on Exhibit

United Spinal’s Independence Expos put consumers in touch with products, services and information that make aging or living with a disability easier and more manageable.

By Christofer Pierson

Independence Expo is fast becoming one of the highest profile ways for United Spinal Association to put into action the ideals expressed in its mission: to improve the quality of life of individuals with spinal cord disorders. It also enables United Spinal to share its 60 years of expertise in the disability rights movement with a whole new audience whose needs overlap with those of United Spinal’s core membership: the growing population of people heading into retirement years who want to be able to age in their homes.

Long Islanders had their first opportunity to attend United Spinal Association’s Independence Expo this past June, a little over a month before Orlando hosted its version for the third year. Altogether, more than 1,500 people visited the exhibit halls and attended workshops at Suffolk County Community College (Brentwood, Long Island) on June 26 and 27, and the Buena Vista Palace Hotel (Orlando) on August 7 and 8—about 600 at the former and more than 900 at the latter. Continue reading

Writing Sample: Medical Feature

Splice of Life

Nerve graft surgery is restoring some function and sensation for people with spinal cord injuries.

By Christofer Pierson

Tom Spiegler, 47, a C5-6 quadriplegic who lives in the Hudson Valley north of New York City, was not looking to be cured of the paralysis he acquired in a work-related accident in May of 2006. He just wanted to fix his wrenched hand to be able to hold things without dropping them—things like pens, eating utensils, and ping-pong paddles.

“If I wanted to play ping-pong with my daughter,” Spiegler says, “we’d have to duct-tape the paddle to my hand.”

Spiegler imagined an operation that would reshape his hands into forms that would actually be functional. So in late October of 2009, he paid a visit to Dr. Andrew Elkwood, a plastic surgeon affiliated with the Plastic Surgery Center in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, who was recommended to him by his physiatrist at the Kessler Rehabilitation Institute in West Orange.

Dr. Elkwood recommended an operation that promised much more function than Spiegler thought possible. Continue reading

Writing Sample: Feature Article

Uptown: The New Downtown?

by Chris Pierson

At the intersection of Forest and Cumberland Avenue in the heart of Portland, four corners meet but do not shake hands.  On the southeast corner, the monolithic art deco AT&T building glowers across the street at a lonely vacant lot to the northeast.  A new parking garage on the southwest corner seems preoccupied with the developments in the condominium space at its foot.  And on the northwest corner, Thomas Moser Cabinetmakers, in an elegant civil war era residence, casts an interested eye on the less than harmonious proceedings all around. Continue reading