Donna Peterson Named Indiana PTA of the Year

NeuroHope’s own Donna Peterson was honored this weekend by the Indiana Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association as the winner of the 2017 Schneider Physical Therapist Assistant Award!

The annual award is presented to an outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) in Indiana, and we are thrilled for Donna and her family for such well-deserved recognition.

Donna has established herself as one of the most knowledgeable and trusted neuro PTAs in our community. As one of the first employees of the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, as a teacher at the University of Indianapolis, and as a founding member of NeuroHope, her expertise of the field is second to none.

Donna was the first therapist I had upon my admission to inpatient rehabilitation following my spinal cord injury in 2010.  She worked with me for two straight months.  She pushed me, encouraged me, and educated me during the most trying time of my life.  The passion Donna shows for her work and for each one of her patients is evident.  I was lucky to have her as my therapist then, and I’m lucky to have her as an integral part of NeuroHope now, seven years later.

On behalf of all the patients, students, co-workers and friends whose lives she has touched throughout her career – we say: CONGRATULATIONS DONNA!!


Welcome Our New Staff!

There are a few new faces at the clinic!  We are happy to announce that the NeuroHope team has added staff members to our family!

The smiling face in the front office is our new Practice Manager, Natalie Robison.  In addition to being our new insurance specialist, Natalie will be handling scheduling and payments in the future.

We are also pleased to welcome Bart Richwalski and Travis Jefferson on board as Rehabilitative Exercise Specialists!  Bart and Travis have backgrounds in exercise science and are certified personal trainers.  They will be under the wing of Nora, Sara, and Donna, and will be attending training with the rest of us at the NeuroRecovery Training Institute later this year.

We are thrilled to add these positions to our staff.  This is part of our unique vision to create the first hybrid rehabilitation / wellness clinic in Indiana that provides assistance for individuals in each stage of the recovery process.


Natalie Robison brings over 9 years of medical office management and billing / coding expertise to her position as NeuroHope’s Practice Manager.  A 2008 Graduate from MedTech College, Natalie possesses a strong commitment to helping others throughout their medical treatment and recovery, providing a professional attitude of compassion, understanding, and support. She has been a credentialed member of the American Academy of Professional Coders since 2007.

Natalie and her husband Joseph were married in 2013 in the US Virgin Islands. They have two children, a 13 year old son named Gavin and a 3 year old daughter named Maeve. Natalie spends her free time crafting and runs a small T-shirt and decal business.

Travis Jefferson, MS is a graduate of Charleston Southern University (B.S. in Kinesiology), Miller-Motte Technical College (Therapeutic Massage), and California University of Pennsylvania (Masters in Exercise Science and Health Promotion).  He started his career as a Graduate Assistant for the Strength and Conditioning Department at Charleston Southern University.

Travis is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist, NASE Speed and Explosion Specialist, Crossfit Level 1 instructor, and holds the ACSM Exercise is Medicine credential. He has experience working with collegiate athletes and the elderly and chronically ill population.

Travis moved to Indiana with his wife, Ariel, and bulldog, Princess, in June of 2016, one day after their wedding. They enjoy traveling, trying new foods, and attending college and professional sporting events.

Bart Richwalski, MS, CSCS has developed a passion for the rehabilitation of musculoskelatal and neurological injuries while working as a strength and conditioning coach in the Indianapolis area over the past decade. From novice fitness enthusiasts to professional hockey players, Bart has utilized his skills to enhance performance, and rehab clients through traumatic injuries.

He received his B.S. from Purdue University in 2007 and his M.S. in Biomechanics from Ball State University in 2014. His primary research interests while working on his thesis included musculoskeletal injury mechanisms and targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR). He is excited to share his experience and innovative thinking with NeuroHope and its rehabilitation team. Bart is also an avid outdoorsman who enjoys everything from camping and hiking to hunting and fishing, while sharing these activities with friends and family.

NeuroHope Moving to the Incrediplex!

It’s official! NeuroHope is moving October 1st!  Walls are being torn down, ceilings altered, and construction is underway to provide our clinic with a new home as we ramp up and expand services for 2018.

We are proud to partner with the Incrediplex, a 4-acre sports and entertainment complex in Lawrence (6002 Sunnyside Rd.) that is building our new gym attached to their existing wellness center on the east end of their “Incredible” campus.  The dream we had four years ago to open a hybrid rehabilitation / wellness clinic for people living with neurologic injury is becoming a reality this fall.  In moments like these, when the work and sacrifices made over the years come to fruition, we pinch ourselves and hope we don’t wake up!

We are also honored to have been formally invited by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) to join their prestigious collaboration of rehabilitation / wellness centers.  NRN sites implement state-of-the-art therapy and wellness programs tied to evidence-based practices uniquely performed and researched at the best rehabilitation centers in the world, including The Shepherd Center (Atlanta), Craig Hospital (Denver), Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (New Jersey), and Frazier Rehabilitation Institute (Louisville).

NeuroHope will be the 12th NRN site, and the 6th independent gym in the world (not tied to a clinical hospital system) that will be participating in unique NRN programs and providing patients with affordable post-acute therapy and exercise.

We have already started to practice some of the NRN’s exclusive Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) sessions.  These pictures show two of our rockstar patients (Nathan and Mark) standing while hooked up to 12 channels of stimulation.  The bottom picture shows the NRN treadmill system that will be at NeuroHope after our move!

As a NRN satellite, we will be collecting data at NeuroHope and will be teaming with researchers from the University of Indianapolis to track outcome measures and program satisfaction.

(Much more on THIS exciting development soon!)

When NeuroHope opened its doors two years ago, our vision including bringing a NRN site to Indiana. It seemed far-fetched.  This fall, it too, will be a reality thanks to support from organizations like the University of Indianapolis, the OrthoIndy Foundation and our many sponsors and supporters.

We are ready!

Hensley Legal Group Donates $15,000!

During NeuroHope’s “Brackets For Good” fundraising campaign last spring, my friend Kara Bastida shared our story with her co-workers at Hensley Legal Group (HLG).  She explained my recovery from a paralyzing spinal cord injury, my journey across the country to find a clinic that provided extended care, and the mission of NeuroHope to create a clinic like it in Indianapolis.

Shortly after Kara’s company email,  John Hensley reached out to me personally to learn more.  He was inspired by our vision and in awe that a place willing to provide affordable long-term therapy didn’t already exist in our city.   He came to NeuroHope to see our therapists in action, heard our patient’s stories and was moved by what he saw.

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Hensley’s downtown office to speak with his team about NeuroHope’s mission and I’m thrilled to announce that Hensley Legal Group has provided a $15,000 donation for our expansion!

This is a tremendous gesture that comes at a perfect time for NeuroHope as we prepare for a move to a new location this fall.  Hensley’s support doesn’t stop there.  The company has committed to assist with annual funding and is devoted to organizing a charity run for NeuroHope next spring!

Their statement about the award:

“Hensley Legal Group, PC is proud to partner with NeuroHope, an organization that provides affordable rehabilitation for survivors of traumatic brain and spinal injuries. When we first visited NeuroHope, we were blown away by not only the hard work they are doing to help these survivors, but also their values of service and sacrifice. These values resonated with us because, just as John did when he founded Hensley Legal Group in 1998, NeuroHope has worked tirelessly to make their dreams a reality. We couldn’t believe the life-changing work that was taking place every day at NeuroHope, and we knew that this was an organization we wanted to support. Everyone struggling with a traumatic brain or spinal injury deserves the kind of quality, affordable care NeuroHope provides, and we’re honored to partner with such an incredible organization.”

The feedback I received after speaking with HLG staff was incredible.  They are a passionate group and eager to help with our cause.  It is truly an honor to have their support.

Community sponsors like HLG are an important part of what keep NeuroHope’s services strong.  Our clinic boldly operates outside the boundaries of insurance reimbursements in order to provide patients with the care they need.  We can’t do it alone!  Organizations and community relationships like this make the difference.


Nick Laviolette and Kurt Suppiger Join NeuroHope Board of Directors

The NeuroHope Board of Directors is proud to welcome Nick Laviolette and Kurt Suppiger to its leadership team!

Nick and his family have been supporters of NeuroHope since the non-profit organization was founded in 2014.  He is passionate about the health of the clinic, and was instrumental in NeuroHope’s successful run in the 2017 Brackets For Good fundraising tournament.  As one of 64 competing charities, NeuroHope raised $54,000 and advanced all the way to the “Philanthropic 4” in the competition.

Kurt shares NeuroHope’s passion for providing long-term, affordable rehabilitation and wellness for individuals recovering from neurologic injury.  Kurt sustained a life-altering spinal cord injury in 2015 and has experienced the grueling journey through the healthcare system firsthand.  His recovery led him to rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA as well as Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville, KY.  Kurt has been client at NeuroHope since he returned home to Indiana in 2016.

Full biographies:

Nick Laviolette, partner in the Laviolette Group and cofounder of JHJ Holdings, is a real estate broker and entrepreneur. The Laviolette Group is a family real estate team with the FC Tucker Company since 2008.  They specialize in estate marketing and providing an enjoyable buying and selling experience. Nothing gives Nick more satisfaction than serving his community and helping clients create homes for their families. The Laviolette Group is consistently one of the Top 20 Producers in the state of Indiana and was the #1 sales leader for Zionsville/Boone County in 2016 with a sales volume of $24 million.  A Ball State Graduate, Nick cofounded JHJ Holdings in 2014, putting a strong emphasis on bettering communities through responsible real estate development practices.

Kurt Suppiger is a Registered Architect with over 30 years of Architectural Design & Planning experience, with primary focus in the field of Healthcare Facility Planning, Design and Construction.  In his previous position as Facility Architect and Project Manager for Indiana’s Community Health Network, Kurt acquired comprehensive expertise in bringing together all aspects of healthcare operations.  In 2015, Kurt sustained a spinal cord injury which resulted in a significant adjustment in his daily life.  Kurt now focuses full-time on his recovery from paralysis, which includes physical therapy and wellness at the NeuroHope clinic. Kurt also actively participates in vocational rehabilitative services through the State of Indiana.  Kurt’s unique perspective on recovery from paralysis is gained from his participation in multiple types of rehabilitative services, including 4 different Inpatient Programs (2 in-state and 2 out-of-state), several Outpatient Programs, including participation in Locomotor Training through the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s Neuro Recovery Network (NRN).  Kurt is a Ball State University graduate and received his Architectural and Environmental Design degree from Ball State’s College of Architecture and Planning.

Learn more about the members of NeuroHope’s volunteer Board of Directors here.

Chris Leeuw to Moderate at Rehab Week 2017

NeuroHope Founder and Executive Director, Chris Leeuw, will be the Moderator at the Rehab Week 2017 panel discussion, “V.I.T. – Not Only For V.I.P.: How to Make Very Intensive Therapy Effective and Affordable” July 20th in London.

Rehab Week is a series of conferences presented by the International Industry Society in Advanced Rehabilitation Technology (IISART).  The event brings together healthcare leaders, researchers, and manufacturers from around the world to discuss the latest advances in the industry, and to connect the engineers that design rehabilitative products with the clinicians that use them with their patients.

The panel discussion on July 20 will focus on the importance of making state-of-the-art interventions affordable and accessible to the patients that need them.  Panelists will include: Dr. Volker Homberg, Secretary General of the World Federation of Neurorehabilitation, Dr. Dale Hull, Founder and Executive Director of Neuroworx, Dr. Gery Columbo, CEO of Hocoma, and Dr. Marta Imamura, Medical Officer at the World Health Organization.

View the promo video for the panel discussion below, and learn more about Rehab Week by clicking here.

Video Transcript:

“There is a new paradigm of neurologic recovery that is taking place. Technology, state-of-the-art interventions, and new rehabilitative tools and devices are being researched and incorporated more and more into the recovery process.  It is a “cog” in the wheel of a comprehensive program that emphasizes high intensity, repetition, and continued access, so patients can be put in a position to maximize recovery and improve their quality of life.

There is a problem with the traditional healthcare model that centers around reimbursement instead of patient access.  Healthcare costs are rising and insurance caps for rehabilitative therapy are becoming more restrictive.   We are at a time where discoveries are being made and innovations are becoming available, but in most places, long term access to these resources are more limited than ever.

So, how do we fix it?

This is the conversation we will be having at Rehab Week in London. The Thursday panel will bring together healthcare leaders from leading hospitals, specialized rehabilitation clinics, the World Health Organization, and manufacturers of some of the most innovative technologies available.

I’m excited to lead the discussion because I’ve lived it.  I have battled back from my own spinal cord injury and been through the recovery process as a patient, and now, as a provider.”



NeuroHope Makes ‘Brackets For Good’ Final Four!

From 64 charities to the FINAL FOUR, and we are still standing! When this “competition” began last month, we thought it was a long shot to get this far. WHY UNDERESTIMATE OUR SUPPORTERS?

You guys are awesome. We have raised $30,000 so far and are just one week away from a potential $10,000 champion bonus!

Click here for the Final Four coverage on WISH-TV!

Goodman Campbell Sponsors Our ‘Brackets For Good’ Campaign: Why It Matters To Me

Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine, one of the largest and most trusted neurosurgery practices in the country, has teamed with NeuroHope in the 2017 Brackets For Good fundraising tournament!

Their endorsement of our mission is especially important to me personally.  Their practice has treated thousands of patients at 16 locations across Indiana, and each has placed total trust in Goodman Campbell’s standard of care during the most frightening time in their life.  One of those patients was me.

At 9:00 PM on Sunday, August 8th 2010,  I was laying in an ICU paralyzed from the neck down.

Hours earlier, a man inadvertently landed on my head as we jumped into a river near Edinburgh, Indiana.  Four vertebrae in my neck were fractured and my spinal cord was crushed.  I never lost consciousness.  I never even felt a twinge of pain.   I was clear-headed as my body was dragged to the beach, and completely lucid during the wait for paramedics and for the helicopter flight to downtown Indianapolis. I remember being wheeled through the hospital and into my MRI scan as if it happened yesterday.

When the whirlwind of the first few hours was over, I found myself staring at the ceiling tiles of Methodist Hospital trying process what had happened.  I knew nothing about spinal cord injury and I had no way to comprehend the lengthy rehabilitation process that was in front of me.  At the time, I only wanted to know what was supposed to happen next.  

Dr. Saad Khairi, a top neurosurgeon at Goodman Campbell, dropped what he was doing that night and rushed to Methodist Hospital when he received the call.   My mother was in the ICU with me when he walked through the door.  He told us that my neck had to be stabilized and that my C2 through C6 vertebrae had to be fused immediately.  Receiving news like that is a lot to handle.

How long until I go under? Do I ask for a second opinion? Am I even at the right hospital? Who is this surgeon that will have my life in his hands?  

In a matter of minutes we were on the phone asking three separate people in the healthcare world for advice.  Each said the same thing.  We were in the right place and Dr. Khairi was the surgeon to have.  Within an hour the fusion was underway.

The next several days were the most challenging – physically and mentally –  of my life.  Immediately after surgery, I needed a ventilator to breath.  My lungs were filled with secretions and I had to learn how to breathe again before I could even think about the rest of my paralyzed body.  As the days passed, I began to experience what life as a quadriplegic would entail. Therapists ranged my limbs, nurses re-positioned my body every two hours, and a team of people attended to everything I needed from feeding, to shaving, to bathing.  As reality set in, I needed to know every detail about my injury, and my chance of recovery.

I flagged down Dr. Khairi whenever I could, and he stood at my side to answer every question I had. He empathized with me and I could tell he wanted to educate me on my injury.  Two days after surgery, I could flex a single muscle in my thigh and I had spotty sensation in my extremities.  Dr. Khairi said that meant signals from my brain were making their way (in some capacity) down my injured spinal cord.  It was my first lesson in neurorecovery, and my first glimmer of hope.

A week later he came to my bed as I was being discharged to the rehabilitation hospital. Once again, I wanted to know what to expect.  Every spinal cord injured individual asks the same question when they are hurt: “Will I walk again?”   In the immediate aftermath of the injury, we’re naive to the complexities of the injury and the magnitude of the struggle ahead.  We don’t understand normalized blood pressure, a neurogenic bladder, or muscle spasticity.  Our minds jump right to the big picture – walking.

Dr. Khairi calmly said that he couldn’t give me an answer. My injury was severe and the odds were against it, but he told me, “Kick your tail in rehab, and we’ll see where you are in a year”.

It was the most exhausting year of my life.  I spent two months at a rehab hospital, four months at a nursing home, and six more months at an outpatient clinic across the country.  Finally, in August of 2011, I wheeled into Goodman Campbell for a one-year check-up.  With my wheelchair parked in the lobby, I rose to my feet and walked into Dr. Khairi’s office to let him know I took his advice.

“Every once in awhile, I have a rock-star patient that blows the doors off the statistics,” he said.

The appointment didn’t need to be long.  It was a check-up to make sure that my spinal fusion had healed properly.  But, I had learned a lot about spinal cord injury and the recovery process, and I had a laundry list of new questions to ask.  Once again, he took the time to answer every one.  He pulled out a tablet and showed me detailed images of the fusion, and even took the time to dig up my original MRI and X-ray from the day of the accident.

In 2011, my rehab was far from over.  I continued aggressive therapy for another year.  Even today, my daily routine revolves around combating my disability.  But, Dr. Khairi and Goodman Campbell played an integral role in my recovery and my early education after a life-altering event.  They supported me, and I’m honored that they support the “rock-star” patients at NeuroHope as well.


NeuroHope Wins 2017 “Health Care Heroes” Award

The physical therapy team at NeuroHope has been named “Top Honoree” for Community Achievement at the 2017 Health Care Heroes Awards!

The annual event, presented by the Indianapolis Business Journal, took place during an elegant breakfast at the Conrad Hilton to recognize doctors, hospitals, community programs, and volunteers who are devoted to bettering health care in Indiana. NeuroHope was humbled to be among the nominees, and honored to take home the top prize in Community Achievement.

Read the article in the Indianapolis Business Journal here!

Director of Therapy Nora Foster accepted the award, flanked at the podium by her amazing team of Sara Sale and Donna Peterson. These ladies are the heart and sole of NeuroHope. Two years ago, they took a leap of faith to join me in a daunting task. As highly trained therapists in neurologic injury, they recognized a void in care in the healthcare landscape, and from a purely altruistic motive, decided to help address it. Their effort has led to the creation of a clinic where injured individuals can continue affordable physical therapy and wellness programs to maximize their recovery process and improve long-term quality of life.

Every clinic revolves around the standard of care it provides its patients. That standard begins and ends with the knowledge, skill, and compassion its clinicians provide. There is no team of therapists I would rather have leading NeuroHope than Nora, Donna and Sara. I witness their work every day, and I’ve experienced it first hand. For me, it’s personal.

Donna and Sara were two of the first therapists that worked with me following my spinal cord injury 7 years ago.   Paralyzed from the neck down, I was admitted to the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana two weeks after my injury to begin the grueling recovery process. Donna was assigned to my case. I knew nothing about spinal cord injury. I knew nothing about the complications my body was experiencing, and I was completely in the dark about my chances for recovery. I was a floating head on a pillow with no concept of the journey that lay ahead.

Inpatient therapists are tasked with a difficult role. Doctors slam their patients with a whirlwind of information and a glimpse of their diagnosis, but therapists are on the front lines to pick up the pieces. They are the first clinicians to spend extensive time and offer hope to injured individuals. Their job is to implement a physical recovery plan, but they unwittingly become counselors, teachers, and mentors as well.

Donna was with me every day for the first eight weeks of the most trying period of my life. Sara participated in a few of my early sessions as well. At a time when therapy was spent ranging my limbs, and contracting a single muscle was a major victory, they pushed me, educated me, and took the time to answer every question I had about my injury. Most importantly, they cared deeply about my progress. They were on the journey with me. Seven years later we are on a remarkable journey again.

Nora gives the same devotion to each and every one of her patients. It is a pleasure to watch her work, and an honor to have her leading the services at NeuroHope. When I met her three years ago, NeuroHope was only an idea. The vision was planted in my head, but without the right clinician, the roots of NeuroHope would never take hold.   I needed a therapist skilled and passionate about neurologic recovery, with the “fire-in-the-belly” to help will NeuroHope into existence. I’m honored to have found her.

I can not imagine three individuals more deserving of their “Hero” recognition. Not just for their role in creating NeuroHope, but for the lives they have touched throughout their entire careers.

Help Us Win $10K in Brackets For Good!

NeuroHope has been selected to participate in the 2017 Brackets For Good fundraising tournament!

This is the only “sport” for nonprofits and anyone can join our team to help us win a $10,000 grand prize!  Modeled after the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament, 64 charities compete in weekly head-to-head fundraising match-ups. The winners advance all the way to the championship.

It starts Friday, February 24th!

Check out Chris at the Indianapolis bracket release pep rally, and learn about the tournament:

Each round lasts one week.  Once the tournament begins anyone can follow the real-time scoreboard, view the bracket, and donate online through the link below.  You can also donate easily by TEXTING “NeuroHope” to 27722.

So, stay tuned throughout the tournament!  Follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter, and share them all so we can spread the word!