A Program of the Medtronic Foundation

Tracy O’Connor
Bakken Winner O'Connor

Tracy O’Connor

2013 Bakken Invitation Honoree

Chandler, Arizona, United States
ThinkFirst

Medical Condition: Chronic Intractable Pain, Resulting From Car Accident
Medical Therapy: Intrathecal Drug Pump to Treat Chronic Intractable Pain*

Tracy's "extra life"Inspires Me

As the sole survivor of a multi-car accident, Tracy was left paralyzed but determined to make a difference. With a drug pump helping manage chronic intractable pain, she is a national voice for disability awareness and works with ThinkFirst to warn thousands of kids on the dangers of risky behavior.

Tracy's Story

"Being the only survivor of a motor vehicle crash and surviving nearly a full day laying in the mountains of Wyoming bleeding and broken, I knew I was alive for a reason. If I can save only one young person from sustaining a brain or spinal cord injury, my time here has been well spent.

"It is obvious to see that a spinal cord injury has changed my life. I do use a wheelchair for mobility. However, it is also easy to see that despite my injury, I am still very active. My injury does not prevent me from doing what I want to do; I may just do it differently.

"I live with chronic intractable pain on a daily basis. While my wheelchair has never slowed me down, my pain did. I underwent a number of procedures and surgeries to try to control my pain, but ultimately it was a drug pump that changed my life. This medical technology has had a dramatic impact on my quality of life. Prior to having my pump implanted, I was often bedridden due to the severity of the pain.

"Now, I am able to continue a NORMAL life where I am able to do the things I want to do. It also has given back to me the ability to be an active member of my community and advocate for injury prevention, disability awareness, and show others that despite a spinal cord injury, their life can go on and be FULL and productive."

Tracy's Words of Inspiration

" Life is truly measured by both quantity of life and quality of life! My therapy has allowed me to carry on my motivational speaking, and mentor newly injured spinal cord injury patients. A high percentage of spinal cord injury patients have severe pain. I now know that my mission is threefold: 1) to educate kids about spinal cord injuries and brain injuries; 2) to mentor newly injured patients, and 3) let them know they too, can have a full, independent life, and a greater quality of life, too."

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$20,000 Grant Makes an Impact

Tracy's Charity

"ThinkFirst is an international injury prevention program. I have been involved with them for 17 years. We reach out to children and young adults to educate them about the dangers of risky behavior. A core theme of the program is to 'use your mind to protect your body,' which emphasizes the importance of making good decisions to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries."

 

Learn about other 2013 Honorees »

*Not everyone who receives this therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if this type of therapy is right for you. Please refer to Important Safety Information.