How Quadriplegic Natalie Barnhard Dealt With Her Feelings After Her Injury

The idea of being a quadriplegic emotionally overwhelmed Natalie at first.

The idea of being a quadriplegic emotionally overwhelmed Natalie at first.

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, Natalie 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 3 of a 5 part series.

“I was in a lot of pain and taking a lot of medications,” Natalie remembers. “I had a lot of visitors, and I couldn’t speak due to the trach in my throat. I really don’t remember much about the ICU, except that I couldn’t cry for 2 or 3 weeks, even though I wanted to. Although I understood what was happening to me, emotionally I couldn’t process my feelings. Finally after about 3 weeks, I was able to cry and release some of that emotion.”

Natalie was told that she had a less than 5% chance of ever walking again. When she realized this, she went into emotional overload and had a more difficult time dealing with that than she did with the actual accident and injury. “The words, ‘You’ll never walk again,’ were the worst I could hear about my injury,” Natalie explains. “At times, none of this – the machine’s falling on me, the paramedics taking me to the hospital, performing the surgery and staying in intensive care – seemed to be real. I kept thinking I’d wake up from this nightmare. I was a physical therapy assistant and a massage therapist, and what was happening wasn’t at all what I’d planned for my life. Although Eerie County Medical Center was an excellent trauma unit, I knew I needed to find a more specialized rehabilitation center. We researched various places throughout the country, and we found the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.” I was flown immediately to the Shepherd Center on a medical jet just two months after my injury. I finally returned to Buffalo six months after rehab.

Natalie did her rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta where she gained back a lot of her strength.

Natalie did her rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta where she gained back a lot of her strength.

For more information about Natalie Barnhard, please click here. All photos in this story are taken from her personal website.

Please click here to learn about her foundation, Natalie’s Walk, which will take place on September 8, 2012. This event supports those who have suffered a spinal cord injury.

Next:  Quadriplegic Natalie Barnhard Enters The Shepherd Center 

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

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