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The podcast feeding the movement to cure paralysis

Trials and Tribulations (Episode 79)

Guests: Mandy Mackenzie & Laura Grabowski

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to participate in an SCI clinical research trial? How do you find out about these trials? Does anyone make a recovery? What are some reasons that you might take the leap - or not? On today’s podcast, you’ll get some answers to these questions and many more. Our guests, Mandy Mackenzie and Laura Grabowski, have each participated in a number of clinical trials and we’ve put them in the hot seat to give you an idea what it’s like.

As always, please share your thoughts with us via email at Thanks for listening! 

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Soundcloud

Bumper music: Dig a Hole by Freaque

Guest Bios

Laura Grabowski was injured in 2019 and has an incomplete injury at C7. She was 43 at the time and had worked as a scientist for Novartis prior to her injury. Laura was a competitive mountain biker and was injured on a casual ride after recent rains had eroded a familiar jump. She also enjoys paddle boarding, yoga, cooking and all of the activities life in Southern California offers. Since her injury Laura has taken part in CT with ReNetX, SpineX, and now has an epidural implant and has never stopped intensive activity based therapy. She currently lives in San Diego and enjoys adaptive mountain biking and paddle boarding. She's also found gardening and jigsaw puzzles to be great activities for improving core and hand function. Laura has two cats and a new desert tortoise.


Mandy Mackenzie grew up on a small ranch in Montana. At age twenty-two, she fell from a balcony and sustained an incomplete spinal cord injury. Once she regained the ability to care for herself, Mandy relocated frequently in pursuit of various rehabilitative interventions. She has lived in Omaha, Houston, Detroit, New York City, Chattanooga, Phoenix, and Los Angeles over the last nine years since her injury. She has been fortunate to regain some ability to walk. More importantly, however, her ability to explore and enjoy the world has been restored. Since becoming a quadriplegic, Mandy has kayaked in the Pacific Ocean, backpacked the Alaskan wilderness, scuba-dived, and skydived. She enjoys attending music festivals with her friends and traveling as much as possible.

Mandy graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science. She was recently accepted to pharmacy school at Creighton University where she will begin her PharmD program this fall. She works remotely as a sales representative which allows her to continue to travel and spend time with loved ones. Mandy is extremely grateful for the life she has been afforded despite an injury she once thought had permanently destroyed it.


Clinical Trial Resources

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  • This podcast is made possible by a grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s National Paralysis Resource Center. The information provided and opinions expressed in these podcasts do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. For more information about the Foundation’s National Paralysis Resource Center visit