“The Healing Agent” Chronicles Tragedy and Triumph Over Spinal Cord Injury

If you were told you would likely never walk again, how would you react?  It is a difficult question to answer, but one addressed in the short documentary ‘The Healing Agent’, released today in partnership with Red Bull TV.  The documentary chronicles the inspiring journey of Canadian freestyle skier Mike Shaw (Vernon, BC), from a catastrophic neck injury in 2013 through a remarkable recovery that now sees him back on his feet despite the odds.


article continues below


More from Red Bull:

In 2013, Canadian freeskier Mike Shaw suffered an accident that would change his life forever.  Watch the story of his incredible recovery now.    

TORONTO (ON) – May 5, 2016 – Almost two and a half years in the making, today former freestyle skier Mike Shaw (Vernon, BC) releases the tell-all documentary ‘The Healing Agent’, chronicling his inspiring journey from a catastrophic neck injury in 2013, through a remarkable recovery that now sees him back on his feet despite the odds.  Filmed by Darren Rayner in partnership with Red Bull TV, Shaw’s story is one of tragedy and triumph that paints a telling picture of the realities of spinal cord injury.  Watch the documentary now here.  An embed code is also available below.

On December 16th, 2013 while coaching freestyle skiing in Colorado, the 27-year-old Mike Shaw suffered an accident that would change his life forever.  While performing a nose-butter 720, an otherwise routine trick Shaw had completed countless times, he miscalculated his jump causing him to land in such a way that dislocated his neck, instantly paralyzing him from the neck down.  “I basically ‘Pez Dispenser’d’ myself”, says Shaw, referring to the way in which his head and neck bent backwards, displacing his neck vertebrae as a result.

Before he had even stopped sliding, Mike already knew what had happened.  “I was wondering why I couldn’t stop sliding down the hill or get up and then it hit me… a hard hit to the face followed by a sharp pain in my neck.  I knew instantly I was paralyzed”.

Almost immediately following surgery in Denver under the care of Dr. Thomas Puschak, Shaw entered intensive rehab at Vancouver’s GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre where he made miraculous improvements in his recovery despite being told he would likely never walk again.  “In the hospital, my friend Bruce Cook and I called the facility Get F**king Strong!”, jokes Mike.  “But that was what it was about for me in hospital… get back on my feet, get strong and get back to my life.  I wanted independence”.

And independence is what he found with the support of friends, family and the Live It Love It Foundation.  Mike made a return to the mountains he loves on a sit-ski following his discharge from hospital, and quickly achieved some major milestones; he started to drive again, re-learned to ride a bike and swim, even standing up on a wake-surf board.

In May of 2015, Mike visited Niagara Falls to participate in the Wings for Life World Run, a simultaneous global running event in 34 locations around the world supporting of spinal cord research.  With the ambition of completing 5km in the race, Mike shattered his goal by almost double, completing an incredible 10km.

Mike plans to run again at the Wings for Life World Run this year on May 8th in Niagara Falls, with the aim of going further and creating awareness to improve the quality of life for those with spinal cord injury, running for those who can’t.