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Courage Award

Dr. James S. Krause

James S. Krause, Ph.D., has had a few months of looking at his sleek 2011 Medtronic National Courage Award to adjust to what it feels like to join the ranks of former recipients such as Stephen Hawking and Christopher Reeve.

Dr. James KrauseKrause, who suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury while diving when he was 16, now is a professor and associate dean for research in the College of Health Professions and a leading national expert and researcher who specializes in health and longevity following a spinal cord injury. He said the award has increased his resolve to continue efforts in those areas.

The award is especially meaningful to Krause, since he was a patient from 1976-79 at Minneapolis' Courage Center's Transitional Rehabilitation Program, known then as Courage Residence. A three-year inpatient stay at Courage Center was common in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, the average length of stay for someone with a spinal cord injury is 99 days.

"I am honored beyond anything that can easily be put into words," said Krause of his award. "I was a Courage Center inpatient for more than three years and certainly would not have been able to accomplish nearly as much as I have without the benefit of the services I received there. It gave me a foundation from which to build. The friendships I developed there have lasted. Receiving this award will help me continue my work and to positively impact the lives of people with disabilities."

Ironically, in many respects, life is much more challenging 40 years later.

"There has been some visible change in terms of accessibility, but there are other barriers that continue. Traveling has become more complicated. When I was at Courage Center, things were simpler. People had the opportunity to use facilities for a much longer period of time and the benefits are likely proportional to the time allocated for preparing for life after disability. The time I spent at Courage Center has had an immeasurable positive effect on my life. Whereas I was there for over three years while I was going to school, people now are there for perhaps three months, just enough time to get some rehabilitative services. It would be much more difficult under those circumstances."
Krause said barriers often prevent people with disabilities to be able to work, even for those who have the intelligence and motivation. "I believe that creating employment opportunities and facilitating education and socioeconomic status are the keys to improving quality of life for people with disabling conditions."

After leaving Courage Center, Krause received his bachelor's degree in 1980 and his Ph.D. in 1990 from the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota. He worked at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a nationally-known rehabilitation facility, for 13 years. His career includes numerous published articles in professional journals, as well as numerous awards. In 2008, Krause was inducted into the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame by the National Association for his research in quality of life.

Krause said the awards ceremony Sept. 24 at Earle Brown Heritage Center in Minnesota was wonderful, and he was able to share the moment with his wife, Laura, friends and colleagues.

It also is an opportunity to get out a message of hope, he said. "People often focus on recovery and place their hope for a good life on the extent of their physical recovery. I want people to know that, under any circumstance, disability or otherwise, there is hope. It's important to develop goals and live with whatever circumstance you have. Focus on the things that are within your control. Be concerned about the present and the future, not about the past or lost opportunities. I truly believe that when one door closes, another opens. You have to look for, and sometimes make, those opportunities."



Friday, Nov. 25, 2011

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