RAFFERTY LAREDO, OTR, MA
Rafferty serves as the Executive Director of the United Spinal Houston. Rafferty is an occupational therapist, gaining extensive clinical expertise and leadership experience at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR), a spinal cord injury model system in Houston, Texas. During his 11-year career there, he worked in the roles of clinical staff, manager, and clinical coordinator. Rafferty graduated from Baylor University with a BA in Psychology in 1997. He then earned his BS in Occupational Therapy from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1999. In 2005 he received a MA in Occupational Therapy with specialization in Assistive Technology from Texas Woman’s University.
Rafferty is regarded as a leader in the field of spinal cord injury and has presented to numerous audiences, both nationally and internationally. He is a well-respected educator, serving as adjunct faculty for Texas Woman’s University, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas State University, Lone Star College, and Pima Medical Institute for both occupational therapy and physical therapy. Rafferty is an expert reviewer for several SCI Clinical Practice Guidelines and co-authored the SCI chapter in the text, Ways of Living. Rafferty is a staff member with SCI Seminars, Inc., providing continuing education and technical clinical training across the U.S. for advanced SCI care. Additionally, Rafferty is a selected reviewer for the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) grants.
In 2011, Rafferty was commissioned by United Arab Emirates to develop a comprehensive, technologically advanced neuro-based clinic in the home of UAE royalty in Abu Dhabi. There he selected and acquired rehabilitation equipment, coordinated therapy and medical services, and provided extensive treatment, education, and training. The Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals awarded Rafferty The Excellence Award for his outstanding leadership in the SCI field. He presently serves on the Academy’s Therapy Leadership Council Board of Directors.
Tobias A. Cole, began his law practice as a defense attorney defending large multi-national corporations. Most of his work involved industrial and commercial personal injury matters. In 2005, he switched sides and began working exclusively for injured individuals and their families. Toby’s practice includes catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases of all types. He also focuses heavily on discrimination, employment and medical malpractice issues.
In 1990, Toby was injured in a diving accident that left him completely paralyzed from the neck down. This unique perspective has led him to focus and develop a clientele with catastrophic injuries, including, paralysis, head injuries, and amputations. His first hand knowledge of the challenges of people with disabilities and their families helps him not only provide excellent legal advice, but also guidance as they learn to live with life altering conditions.
Toby is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. This is a distinction less than two percent of attorneys in Texas have obtained. This honor requires the individual to demonstrate a high proficiency in trial work.
Toby earned his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center in 1998. He received his MBA in Finance that same year. He graduated with honors from the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston in 1995.
Toby has two children, Gage and Parker.
Joel Thompson is a lifelong Texan and a longtime resident of Houston. He attended college and law school at Baylor University. He has been a practicing trial lawyer in Houston, Texas for over 25 years. Joel has spent his entire career representing victims who have suffered catastrophic injuries from a variety of causes. He is intimately familiar with the immediate obstacles one faces in navigating a civil justice system that has become increasingly stacked against those suffering injury from the negligence of another.
A large part of his practice has also been devoted to helping those in need in other areas as well. “Our society is filled with individuals with special needs, who have not been injured by a big corporation with deep pockets. Many of those individuals are in need of legal representation simply because they are constantly mistreated, not only by insurance companies, but others who have made a hollow commitment to conduct their business in a non-discriminatory manner.”
His experience in the Houston legal community makes Joel a regular guest expert on Houston radio station KTRH, recently being interviewed on issues regarding deaths at Disney World and the legal ramifications surrounding the ongoing saga of Tiger Woods. He has also made live guest appearances on CNBC, discussing current events such as the BP oil spill and corporate problems at Hewlett Packard. He currently serves as a Partner at Thompson & Tredennick LLP.
Ted was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in 1992. For thirteen years, Ted taught English at Second Baptist High School and then the Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas. Early in his teaching career, Ted suffered a spinal cord injury from a dirt bike accident in 1997. As a result of the injury, he developed a rare neurological disorder known as syringomyelia; both his accident and the onset of syringomyelia have rendered him paralyzed from the chest down. Ted performed his rehabilitation at both the TIRR Hospital in Houston, Texas and at the Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Although confined to a wheelchair, Ted returned to teaching English full-time soon after his accident.
While continuing to teach English, Ted also decided to pursue his lifelong interest in law. Starting in 2004, Ted began pursuing his law degree at the University of Houston Law Center. He received his J.D. in 2008. After law school, Ted left teaching and began working with the boutique law firm of Moulton & Meyer. From there, he joined Doliver Capital Advisors as a Vice President and General Counsel. Ted has worked for Doliver since 2009. In addition, Ted is a Partner at Thompson & Tredennick LLP. He is a member of the Texas Bar Association, holds both the Series 65 and Series 3 Securities licenses, and has a Master’s degree from the University of Houston.
Ted met his wife Melissa after his spinal cord injury. They have three children and live in Houston, Texas.
JEFFREY BERLINER, DO
Jeffrey Berliner is a doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO. Prior to this he served as the clinical director of the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) unit at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR). Jeff has many academic and research pursuits related to the field of spinal cord injury medicine.
Jeff attended medical school at Nova Southeastern University and then pursued a fellowship in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation which he completed at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU. He later went on to fellowship in SCI Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and became a board certified SCI medicine specialist.
Jeff has many pursuits involving education and research. He has been voted the Physician of the Year and has received the Deans Academic Teaching Award twice. He has spoken at many conferences both nationally and internationally. Jeff is currently involved in four research projects, two of which he is the principal investigator including using exoskeleton technology for recovery of motor function in persons with SCI. Other research pursuits include pain management, wound management, stem cell therapy, and treadmill therapy in patients with SCI.
Jeff is currently involved and holds positions in local, national and international organizations. He is on the program committee for the American Spinal Injury Association, the respiratory committee for the neuron-recovery network, and involved in the Program for Academic Leadership from the Association of Academic Psychiatrists.
Jeff is dedicated to improving the lives of persons affected by SCI. He has taken a lead role in helping those underserved and currently dedicates time at a non-profit organization to provide free medical care to those less fortunate. He is an advocate for community re-entry and adaptive technology.
Dr. Eugene L. Alford MD FACS is a world-renowned specialist in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery having authored more than 45 original peer reviewed articles, 14 original book chapters, and given over 100 invited lectures both nationally and internationally. He’s served on the editorial board of 10 national medical journals, been an Invited Guest Professor at 14 different U.S. and International Medical Schools and appeared on the OPRAH Show, Larry King Live, The Discovery Channel, and most of the local Houston Television Stations as an expert in Facial Plastic Surgery.
Gene is the recipient of many awards for his charitable work and is uniquely situated to feel empathy for those who are disabled as he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down in December of 2007. After 10 months in the hospital and grueling rehabilitation, Gene ultimately persevered, and now performs his surgeries from a power wheelchair that allows him to stand and operate normally. He continues his recovery with daily work at home and supervised rehab at The Methodist Hospital Outpatient Rehab Department.
Gene is married to Dr. Mary Alford, D.D.S. and has three children: John, Bess, and Charles.
Bill was born in New York City and raised on Long Island. He attended Groton School, received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his MBA from Yale University. He has lived in Houston for over 30 years. During that time Bill has been President of seven public and private companies in the energy and industrial industries. He has also served on numerous Boards, both corporate and philanthropic.
In 2013, Bill fell and sustained a spinal cord injury. Through intense rehabilitation at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) Memorial Hermann, participation in the Christopher Reeve Foundation sponsored Neurorecovery Network locomotor training program, and continuing rehabilitation at Spero Rehab, Bill has unmitigated support for the work of United Spinal Houston and the goal of helping those affected by spinal injuries.