CURE NATION: When a 600-pound rehab exercise machine falls on the Rehabilitation Physical Therapy Assistant, some would call that irony. Some would call it a tragedy. Natalie Barnhard calls it a gift from God. “You can persevere through the injury and find something that is meaningful. Absolutely nothing is impossible through God. Look at what I wouldn’t have done, had this injury never happened.”
The injury is no small thing, however. Natalie Barnhard’s C-5 vertebrae was completely crushed, instantly making her a C-5 quadriplegic. Although she has experienced recovery in the past 15 years, especially sensory recovery below her level of injury, she couldn’t go back to being a therapist, neither a Physical Therapist Assistant nor a Licensed Massage Therapist, her most recent degree.
Natalie’s attitude sounds inspirational and, for many people, unbelievable. She didn’t get that way overnight, though.
“Early on, you don’t want to associate with other people in wheelchairs because you don’t want to think of yourself like that. It takes a while to realize that these are the people who will understand! You can bitch to each other, cry to each other.”
the life changing support from her family
Although they had no first-hand knowledge of living with SCI, Natalie is thankful for her supportive family.
“Up until the accident, I was lucky. I knew what I wanted to do, where my passion was. I had just finished the boards for my State Massage Therapy license. I was 6 months away from buying a house and I had a boyfriend I thought I was going to marry.” None of these goals survived the accident.
“I remember early on talking to my mom. I said, ‘I don’t understand how God would give me something just to take it all away!”
Natalie’s voice turns steely: “Mom just said, ‘God isn’t a God who would do that.’ She was absolutely certain, and that helped so much.”
The details of the dream had to change, Natalie knew. But the dream could continue, and Natalie found that God could indeed give her something else she loved.
how ‘together we move’ came to be
“I started Wheels with Wings Foundation to give grants to disabled people who need things their insurance won’t pay for. I saw the need for funding wheelchairs, vehicles, shower chairs. How could anyone call a shower chair an unnecessary item? No medical necessity to get clean? It’s appalling!”
Her own recovery was aided by Workers’ Compensation, a benefit she realizes eased some burdens, but not all. “You still have to fight. They won’t give you anything. You have to fight, tell your doctors what to write, what to fight for. The system is too dependent on how the doctor writes the letters.”
Natalie got involved. She started the Buffalo chapter of United Spinal Association She did the Roll on Capitol Hill , several times. Then the wings were in motion when she renamed her foundation, making it Motion Project: Together We Move.
Still, the facts were there, unable to be ignored: “Prior to that freak accident I had been working with my body, with my hands and suddenly that just wasn’t an option any more. I prayed ‘God, give me something else that I can love as much as the work I was forced to give up!’ I had been clear on my path and suddenly, out of the blue, it was like: ‘Wait a minute, this isn’t the path?’ I was really confused. Nothing else really peaked my interest.”
Natalie went dutifully to Vocational Rehab, taking all the tests. “It wasn’t a big surprise. I tested high for helping people, doing for others. They wanted me to do Psychiatry, so I studied it for 6 months. Hated it! It wasn’t a passion for me before my injury, never mind after my injury! It still did not offer the passion to help others that I was longing for. I quit after 6 months.”
Natalie continues, “I feel that God has found a way for me to help so many more people, but at first you can’t see past your hurt and your shattered heart. I had always wanted to do some sort of wellness center but never knew what it would look like. After my injury it began to take shape. Because I had Workers’ Comp, and an exceptional family, I was able to travel. I experienced the way rehab should be. Now I can put that together in my own unique recovery center.”
Natalie is under no illusions that the rehab she got was typical.
“With Workers’ Comp I got a longer hospital stay. Most people’s injury is not work related, so when someone leaves the hospital after just a week or two, they have nowhere else to go. What happens to them when their insurance denies outpatient rehab? Hopefully, Motion Project is able to pick up the threads.”
the purpose of motion project: together we move
Motion Project will be spiritually uplifting, offering state of the art equipment with specialized activity-based therapy and expertly trained therapists. It will be a facility of training and research as well as peer support and care navigation, making it more than just a rehabilitation center. This will be where together we move to rise above and recover.
“What is also needed is Care Navigation. Families need facts and people who are familiar with the process to rally around. The big question after rehab is to identify, What’s Next?”
Natalie’s plan is that the center will do all of that.
“I’m not a business major, I just have the heart and the vision to do this. I couldn’t imagine me doing anything else. It’s just amazing what God can do. He really does have a bigger design in mind. The joy that you can get from helping someone else is a huge blessing. I can’t believe that He trusted me to do all of this.”
The University of Buffalo heard her plans and offered to collaborate with her new project. Part of that collaboration is to create an endowment, so that no one is ever turned away from this therapy for lack of funds. The University of Buffalo will also support education and research.
“This is what we need to put into place. There always seems to be a road block, it just kept not happening. God gave me His vison and I know it’s all in His time, but…” Natalie laughs, sheepishly, “It is hard to wait.”
The Grand Opening of Motion Project; Together We Move is set for Spring of 2020.
natalie’s love of cure medical!
To request free samples of the Cure Catheter® or any Cure Medical catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
About CURE Medical, Natalie says, “I love using Cure Medical’s catheters, not only do they have a huge variety to choose from so I was able to try and find what worked best for me, but I know that they are also safe to use because they are BPA free. That gives me peace of mind. I really love their generosity for donating 10% of their profits back to Spinal Cord Research, I don’t know any other company that does this! Thank You Cure!”
Founded by a quadriplegic, Cure Medical is the only catheter manufacturer in the world that donates10% of net income to support research programs in pursuit of a cure for urinary retention, paralysis, spinal cord injury and central nervous system disorders.
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