The Real Lives exhibition consists of studies of 9 participating ex-patients of the National Spinal Injuries Centre, featuring photographs and an editorial story about each of their experiences. They portray very honest and moving accounts of how people initially reacted to their spinal injury and how they gradually adjusted their personal, family and working lives. The exhibition shows that ordinary people who have had a spinal injury through an accident or a medical condition may have to completely relearn how they manage everyday activities such as getting dressed, feeding themselves, writing letters etc. as well as coping with personal relationships.

They are very happy to share their experiences in the hope that this will help other people rise to the challenges of living with a spinal injury. We hear of the amazing achievements of Paralympian sports men and women but there are also so many exceptional people with spinal injuries who successfully manage the obstacles of everyday life.

Photographs were shot by professional photographer Michaela Greene and editorial advice was given by journalist Jeremy Smith.

The Real Lives Exhibition is an initiative devised and produced by Arts Co-ordinator Vivienne Gordon, for the Arts Rehabilitation Programme in the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Our main aim is to offer arts and cultural activities for patients as part of their rehabilitation programme as some can be staying in the hospital for many months while others are returning as re-admissions to receive treatment for a few weeks. Practicing artists visit the centre to run lively arts and crafts workshops, including print-making, textiles, glass design, glass and silk-painting, photography, pottery, mosaics, sculpture, music, singing, drawing, watercolour and acrylic painting and much more. External exhibitions raise the profile of the Arts Programme attracting interest from local communities, funding possibilities and potential ideas for future projects.