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.

Pictures from Rehab Week London!

Rehab Week 2017 was a smashing success!

More than 1,200 attendees from around the world gathered at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in the heart of downtown London for a series of conferences presented by the International Industry Society in Advanced Rehabilitation Technology (IISART).  The event brought together healthcare leaders, clinicians, researchers, and manufacturers to discuss the latest advances in the industry and to connect the engineers that design rehabilitative products with the providers that use them with their patients.

Booths throughout the venue displayed the world’s most cutting edge therapy resources, and talks throughout the week discussed advances in neurologic recovery, the future of robotic devices, and ideas for integrating them into comprehensive therapy programs.

NeuroHope Founder & Executive Director, Chris Leeuw hosted a panel discussion titled:  “V.I.T. – Not Only For V.I.P.: How to Make Very Intensive Therapy Effective and Affordable”, that discussed the need for greater accessibility to the state-of-the-art interventions created to help injured individuals on their road to recovery.  The expert panel featured Dr. Gery Colombo (inventor of the Lokomat and CEO of Hocoma, one of the leading manufacturers for neurorehabilitation solutions in the world), Dr. Dale Hull (Founder & Executive Director of Neuroworx, a state-of-the-art outpatient clinic in Salt Lake City), and Dr. Volker Homberg (Secretary General of the World Federation of Neurorehabilitation).

It is an exciting time in the world of neurorecovery!

Breakthroughs in research are taking place in labs around the world, and new forms of rehabilitation technology are reaching the market to help more people living with disabilities.  The goal of Rehab Week was to advance the conversation and find innovative ways to connect the industry to better serve the patients in need.

It was a fantastic week, and NeuroHope is proud to have been part of the conversation.






Mark’s Story: A Loved One’s Perspective

By Zach Marr
Mark Ashcraft is one of those people you can’t help falling in love with.  He has a caring soul and an infectious, outgoing personality. Anyone who meets him is immediately drawn in.  He is a fighter with an enormous heart.  That is the reason he fights daily to walk again.  I have watched the progression of emotional states Mark has been through during his recovery, from the “Why Me?” stage to the “This isn’t going to beat me!” stage.   It is inspiring to watch his determination in action.  He passed through the initial stages of grief quickly.  His goal from the beginning has been to defeat paralysis and walk again.
Nothing can prepare you for watching someone you love become paralyzed and witnessing them struggle to live the life they once lived.  You see them unable to walk, run, or take care of themselves.  You see them unable to live in their own home.  It is difficult to watch the agony they live through on a daily basis, as they struggle to perform the simple tasks they are so used to doing.  It is crushing to watch spirits fade and fear settle in for the injured, and for every person involved in their life.  Loved ones attempt to pick up the pieces and try to appear calm, even though on the inside,  every fiber of their being fears what the future holds as well.
Mark was born with Scheuermann’s disease, and has suffered from its complications his entire life.  His is a condition where the spine curves and the discs and vertebrae fuse together.   As Mark aged, his condition got worse.  The deterioration caused pain on a daily basis.   Numerous tests, scans, and consultations determined that surgery was the only option.  So, in January 2017, Mark went in for a procedure.  The surgical process involved breaking most of his spine and removing the T9 vertebra.  Two rods and more than 30 screws were inserted into his spine for re-alignment.  Surgery went well and Mark was at home recovering for a couple of months.  He was walking with a cane and on track for a successful recovery.   In March, things turned in the blink of an eye.  He fell one day, and he began experiencing excruciating pain that shot up his spine.  His surgeon recommended an immediate trip to the hospital.  It was determined that Mark’s upper spine was trying to curve back into the state it was in before his surgery.  Since his lower spine was straight with rods and screws, this meant that Mark’s upper spine was applying pressure and pulling on his spinal cord and nerves.
In March of 2017, he underwent a second emergency surgery.  Doctors placed two rods and screws in his upper spine to correct the curve that was re-forming.  The procedure appeared to have wen t well, but nothing prepared us for what happened next.  Mark woke up paralyzed.  Doctors called it a “non-traumatic spinal cord injury”.  My first thought was, “Non-traumatic for whom!?” 
Other than the loss of my mother, watching Mark experience this kind of trauma, and not knowing if he would will ever walk again, is the most painfully emotional experience I’ve ever had to face.  I tried to remain in good spirits and stay positive during my hospital visits and phone calls.  But, on the inside I was in pain too.  I became the cheerleader on days he wanted to give up, the therapist on days he needed guidance, and the coach on the days he needed a pep talk.   Luckily, pep talks weren’t needed very much.  I have a fighter on my hands.  I have never known anyone with such a fighting spirit.
After several weeks in the hospital with no significant changes, we were let loose into the wonderful world of rehabilitation.  Here, Mark learned how to live with his disability.  He learned ways to shower, get dressed, and use a catheter.  He learned exercises to strengthen his upper body to assist with transfers.  Physical therapy sessions using hoists to get him standing, and exercises that helped him bear weight became his daily grind.  By the time Mark’s insurance was capped and his therapy benefits were exhausted, he was on his way to making great progress. In fact, his last week in rehab he stood on his own for a few moments by holding onto the wall.  But, in spite of his progress, I was worried about how Mark would continue his recovery with home rehabilitation, and I was concerned he wouldn’t receive the expertise he needed to learn to walk again.  Mark was concerned as well.  And within a few weeks of being home, I could tell he was becoming down and depressed.
Then, one afternoon last May, I received a phone call from an enthusiastic Mark.  “You HAVE to go to this website right now, and look at this place called NeuroHope here in Indy!”, he exclaimed.  I hadn’t heard him that excited in a long time.  He told me about NeuroHope’s inspiring story.  A spinal cord injury survivor named Chris Leeuw and a Doctor of Physical Therapy named Nora Foster opened a clinic for neurologic injury for individuals that needed more therapy after their injuries.  They started the clinic from scratch and were helping people just like Mark.  That day, Mark called NeuroHope, left a message and prayed he would hear back and be able to become a patient at this amazing place.  A couple days later we were driving and his phone rang.  It was NeuroHope returning his call.  Mark began talking to the person on the line and I listened to his side of the conversation as he relayed his story.  After awhile, he asked the name of the person he was talking to, and he was as told it was Chris, NeuroHope’s Founder.
I actually had to pull the car over so he could gather himself.  I’ll never forget the look on his face.  It was like he was talking to a celebrity.  Mark was so excited to talk to the person who’s own recovery had inspired him to never give up.  Someone, like Mark, who knew what it felt like, and had chosen to help others in similar situations.  We went the following week for a consultation, and we met Chris, Nora, and the incredible family of staff at NeuroHope.  It was quickly clear that Mark had found a home.
The last two months have been inspiring for all of us.  His therapists work him hard, and try new things to push his body and recovery.  His recovery is slow, but he sees improvement every day.  I’ve watched him improve transfers, begin to stand, and even TAKE HIS FIRST STEPS!
NeuroHope has been a perfect match for Mark to continue his journey, and he will never give up!

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 at the NeuroRecovery Network Summit

The NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) held its annual summit at Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville, Kentucky last week.  NeuroHope is laying the groundwork to join the network later this year, and our staff was invited to attend and learn about the innovative therapy interventions that are being researched and implemented at NRN sites across the country and overseas.

The NRN is a collaboration of clinical sites tied to rehabilitation hospitals (Craig Hospital, Frazier Rehab Institute, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, Ohio State University Medical Center) and independent sites aimed to continue aggressive therapy and wellness for patients after they leave the hospital system (Next Step, Courage Kenny, Journey Forward, NeuroKinex).

The inspiration to begin this unique network of sites began through the work of Dr. Susan Harkema and Dr. Andrea Behrman, whose research led to a better understanding of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of nerve cells in the central nervous system to develop new connections and learn new functions.  Their work provided new evidence about the role the spinal cord plays in stepping, standing, and interpreting sensory information to re-learn tasks.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (CDRF) helped fund the original research, and in the years since, the Foundation has been devoted to translating results to the clinic to help patients recovering from and living with spinal cord injury.

The NRN revolves around providing Activity-based therapy, a specific technique that activates the nervous system below the injury level and focuses on strengthening muscle weakness and neurologic recovery.  In addition to specific manual techniques, a principle Activity-based intervention is Locomotor Training.  Locomotor Training allows injured individuals to repetitively practice standing and stepping using body weight support.  In a therapy session, the participant is suspended in a harness over a treadmill at a high speed while specially trained therapists move the legs and ankles using specific sensory cues to simulate walking.  As the person gains function, improvements in sitting, standing, core strength, circulation, and bone-density may occur.

Dr. Harkema is also a pioneer in implementing epidural stimulation in her work, which made global headlines in 2011 and 2014 for restoring movement in four spinal cord injured individuals.  Since then, the NRN has incorporated new methods of NeuroMuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) at their sites to target upper extremity function, increase movement, and improve neuroplasticity.  NMES uses parameters beyond typical electrical stimulation to excite the central nervous system and activate weakened muscles.

Drs. Harkema and Behrman delivered lectures at this year’s summit and worked with NRN staff members from sites around the country as they practiced evaluation and activity-based therapy techniques.

We were honored to be invited to the summit and learn from some of the best minds in the world of neuroscience.  NeuroHope will soon be one of just 13 sites in the world where these innovative techniques are available.

Learn more about the NRN below:





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!

Client Spotlight: John Piper

A veteran of the Pike Township Fire Department and the War in Afghanistan, in June of 2015, John Piper suffered a life changing spinal cord injury in a motorcycle crash.  His journey from the ICU to inpatient and outpatient rehab, to extended rehab at Frazier Rehabilitation Institute and NeuroHope is an inspiring one.

Recovering from neurologic injury is a physical, mental, and emotional battle.  The determination John shows each day is moving.

THIS is what it’s all about everyone!


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.