Note from Matthew Reeve: Big update on The Big Idea - Blog - Reeve Foundation

Since its inception, the Reeve Foundation has been guided by a larger purpose to change the lives of those living with paralysis. Over the years, our ability to transform lives has been the gold standard we use to measure the impact and potential of our ideas.

Our commitment to this goal has never been more evident as new breakthroughs are being discovered at a rapid pace with the Reeve Foundation leading the charge. In total, we have provided $130 million in funding to labs around the globe to accelerate innovative research.

Three years ago, we announced our most ambitious scientific initiative to date—The Big Idea. The campaign was inspired by groundbreaking research funded by the Reeve Foundation in which four young men, who were diagnosed with chronic complete spinal cord injury, had a device called an epidural stimulator implanted on their spine. Rob, Kent, Andrew and Dustin regained the ability to stand, bear their own weight, and flex their toes, legs, and hips; and all four have experienced improved bladder, bowel and sexual function.

This discovery marked an unprecedented breakthrough in our pursuit to enhance the health, independence, and quality of life for people with paralysis. In total, eleven participants have received epidural stimulation at the University of Louisville and all have reported positive results.

Despite its tremendous potential, the FDA considers epidural stimulation as a therapy for spinal cord injury to be experimental. Only after safety and efficacy are rigorously demonstrated will the FDA permit its use in spinal cord injury. So, we set out to prove our case.

I am thrilled to share with you that we now have the official green light from the FDA to start The Big Idea study and enroll participants. This is a huge milestone. And a big win for the Reeve Foundation and the community we serve.

And that’s the purpose of The Big Idea—to prove that this technology can reverse some of the most devastating complications of spinal cord injury.

While the journey to The Big Idea has been longer than anticipated, we have stayed the course and kept our promise to expedite this innovative research. This is why the Reeve Foundation exists— to be the bridge between academia, industry and government to advance life-changing therapies, like epidural stimulation, to our community in a matter of years, not decades.

The University of Louisville is currently screening potential candidates identified by the Victory Over Paralysis database. Please visit for more information on this study.

It is now within our reach to transform more lives than ever before, but there is more work to be done. While receiving unconditional approval from the FDA is indeed a giant leap forward, we have yet to reach our fundraising goal to complete the study. We have committed to moving forward with the hope and faith that our most ardent supporters will continue their commitment so that this research can carry on without disruption.

As we embark on this new, exciting era for the Reeve Foundation, we cannot do it alone. Please support the Reeve Foundation this holiday season to ensure The Big Idea is fully funded so that we can change the world for individuals living with paralysis.

My father dreamed of a world of empty wheelchairs, never has that dream been closer to becoming a reality. This is our moment. This is our movement. This is your chance to be part of The Big Idea.

Thank you for your incredible support.

Matthew Reeve

Note: There are companies and clinics in other parts of the world that are falsely advertising epidural stimulation treatments and may pose a danger to the paralysis community. Please read the Reeve Foundation's statement on off-shore stimulation treatments.

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The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.