Quadriplegic Natalie Barnhard Enters The Shepherd Center

Natalie had extensive rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center.

Natalie had extensive rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center.

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 4 of a 5 part series.

When Natalie Barnhard arrived at the Shepherd Center with a plate in her neck and two rods fusing the C4-C7 vertebrae, she was rolled into a room with a group of doctors she’d never seen. “Before I left Buffalo, my doctor had told me that I’d have to wear the neck brace for at least 4 months,” Natalie reports. “I’d only had my neck brace on for 2 months when I arrived at the Shepherd Center. The doctors took off my neck brace. My neck felt very wobbly causing me to feel unsure about their decisions.”

“My family and I took a lot of classes before the Shepherd Center would release me. My mother had to pass the classes and be checked to make sure she knew exactly what she would need to do when I arrived home. The Shepherd Center turned into the best decision we’ve ever made because they genuinely cared about my well being and how my family would help me once we were discharged.”

A serious injury requires lifestyle changes for the patient and the family. “Those courses that my parents and I took together gave me peace of mind about going home,” Natalie Barnhard says. “Just as importantly, the courses helped my parents to see and know that they’d be able to help me and do whatever was required to make my homecoming as easy as possible.” Natalie really appreciated the day program during the last month of therapy. “This was a transition between being a patient and going home,” Natalie explains, “I was guided through the process of living independently. I stayed in an apartment there.”

Natalie worked hard to gain back her strength and muscle tone.

Natalie worked hard to gain back her strength and muscle tone.

However, the physical part of Natalie’s therapy was almost the easy part. Emotionally she continued to think that her life was over. “All I could think about was all the many things that I loved doing that I wouldn’t be able to do again. I’d think about walking down the aisle before getting married, turning my head and everything else I enjoyed doing,” says Natalie.

“I had a boyfriend, but we broke up about 8 months after my injury. He had a hard time dealing with the aspects of my injury. That was a difficult part of my life that I had to endure.”

Once she arrived home, it was extremely difficult for Natalie to understand the new dynamics of her life. She lost her boyfriend, job and a lot of independence. Her family and friends adapted their lives to help her and she didn’t want to burden them with the extra responsibility. As a physical therapist assistant and a massage therapist, Natalie was able to relieve physical pain from her patients, but finally understood what they were feeling on the inside.

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 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.

Next: Quadriplegic Natalie Barnhard Gets Stronger And Starts Her Own Foundation To Help Others 

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

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