June 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Editor’s Note: Natalie Barnhard from Buffalo, New York genuinely cares for people. As a physical therapy assistant and massage therapist, her mission in life was to try and relieve the pain and suffering of people with injuries and disabilities. As an active and independent young woman, Barnhard never thought she’d need someone to help her. She never really understood the emotional problems that victims of tragic accidents or unexpected illnesses faced, until she experienced tragedy in her own life. Part 5 of a 5 part series.
Natalie Barnhard says that her one sustaining hope during this time was her faith in God and her friends and family who constantly prayed for her. She was unhappy about her new life in a wheelchair and yearned to live life the way she did prior to her injury. She finally realized that she didn’t want to be depressed and angry for the rest of her life and gained a positive spirit. Natalie wanted to do everything she could to get stronger, better and move on. It was a long, difficult process but she always persevered. The first year of as a quadriplegic required a lot of rehabilitation and she had to work hard to get her body healthy again.
The second year Natalie adapted to her new life at home. She periodically returned to the Shepherd Center for more rehab which physically and emotionally made her stronger. She was an avid athlete before her injury and she missed that feeling of well-being that sports and exercise brought her. “I had no movement at all after my injury. However, I worked extremely hard in rehab and my arms grew stronger as well as regaining a lot of feeling. I even began to work on standing up and strengthening my core. I soon realized that the harder I worked, and the more I exercised, the more body function and strength I gained. I finally realized that I had to work my body, if I hoped to get more function, feel better and regain the joy I had once had,” said Natalie, happily.
Today Natalie has mobility everywhere above her chest and some mobility in her trunk. After her second trip to the Shepherd Center, she realized she also needed to be around other people in wheelchairs to change the way she felt emotionally. “They understood what I was going through. They were trying to solve the same problems as me. I finally realized that exercising was a huge factor in regaining my mental health. I understood that I really needed that rigorous physical activity to heal my body and change my outlook on life.”
Today Natalie Barnhard has returned to her goal before the accident of helping others. Although she no longer practices physical therapy and massage, she’s helping people by starting a foundation called Wheels with Wings in Buffalo, New York. Her website should be available very soon. According to Natalie, “I want to start raising awareness about the challenges of spinal cord injuries. We have our first event, Natalie’s Run, on September 8, 2012 – a 5K walk to raise money at the Buffalo Harbor. Her goal is to raise money for people with spinal cord injuries to receive therapy, car modifications and support families in the recovery process. I’ve traveled a long journey from being a therapist, going through this injury and recovering.
“I’m so excited about the foundation. I think in the next 10 years my dream will become bigger than I’ve ever imagined it would. Everyone I’ve talked to about the foundation has been very excited. Within the next few years, I’d love to see a spinal cord recovery center in Buffalo.”
The video below shows Natalie standing independently without any pelvic support!
Please click here to learn about her foundation and their upcoming event, Natalie’s Walk, which will take place on September 8, 2012. This event supports those who have suffered a spinal cord injury.
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com