Tag Archive for: Donna Peterson

Chris Leeuw Awarded “Rosenbaum Friend of Physical Therapy” from INAPTA

NeuroHope Founder and Executive Director Chris Leeuw was presented with the 2018 “William T. Rosenbaum Friend of Physical Therapy” award by the Indiana chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY on September 22.

From the INAPTA: “The award is presented to honor and recognize the accomplishments of those persons outside our profession who, through their dedicated assistance and support, have promoted our ideals and improved our profession.”

Leeuw was nominated and presented with the award by Donna Peterson, who was recognized as the Schneider PTA of the Year in 2017.  Peterson was Leeuw’s primary therapist during his two month inpatient rehabilitation following his 2010 spinal cord injury.  Five years later, she joined NeuroHope when Leeuw and physical therapist Nora Foster first launched the clinic to provide long-term, affordable therapy for neurologic injuries.

Peterson’s remarks:

“Chris Leeuw’s life changed in an instant when a little over 8 years ago, a perfect late summer day and adventure left him paralyzed from the neck down as a result of a C4-C5 SCI. I had the fortunate pleasure of meeting Chris during the early days of this journey as one of his first physical therapists in acute rehabilitation.  I knew then that Chris, along with his family, had a special drive that the injury and the status quo of the health care system would not contain.

 Fortunately for Chris, he demonstrated early signs that his injury was incomplete and his potential for recovery was great. What he was lacking was time, as insurance was pushing for discharge from acute rehab and the intensive therapy that his injury indicated.  Chris and his family, not taking “no” or “that’s how the system works”, as an answer fought for an alternative and found a program in Utah that offered affordable, long term rehabilitation options. Chris thrived in this environment and was able to make huge strides in his recovery. Upon his return to Indiana, Chris vowed to make a difference and began his quest to develop and provide a similar option in Indiana and change the paradigm of rehabilitation and wellness for individuals affected by and living with paralysis in Indiana.  

That’s how NeruoHope was born. In the months and years that followed, Chris worked tirelessly to fund and open NeuroHope in February 2015, a non-profit outpatient clinic with a mission to provide affordable, activity-based therapy to people living with and recovering from neurologic injury.

In the last few years, not only has Chris opened NeuroHope, but he has been instrumental in changing legislation that allows funding for long term rehabilitation and wellness, promoted awareness of the needs of those with neurological injuries, been a mentor, inspiration and friend to patients and supporters of Neurohope, facilitated the strategic affiliation with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network as a one of only 7 Community Fitness and Wellness Centers in the U.S.,  and lead multiple fundraising efforts which have allowed Neurohope to expand to offset the costs in providing services to countless individuals.  On top of that, his most outstanding achievement was hiring me. 

In all seriousness, I have been honored to have the unique opportunity to watch Chris battle his personal physical challenges with SCI, but take an idea and turn it into reality that benefits countless individuals.   I knew early on, that Chris would always look for a new road, a new way, and never stop striving to be the best version of himself.  Chris, through his relentless pursuit of his vision, has provided others with the opportunity to become the best version of themselves and allow them every possible chance for maximum recovery and the best quality of life possible.

I am honored to present Chris Leeuw, my former patient, current boss and long-time friend with the 2018 Bill Rosenbaum Friend of PT Award.”

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!!


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.

NeuroHope Nominated for 2017 Health Care Heroes Award

NeuroHope_TherapistsThe physical therapy team at NeuroHope has been selected as one of three nominees in “Community Achievement” for the Indianapolis Business Journal’s 2017 Health Care Heroes Award!

NeuroHope was created three years ago because of a simple realization: Many patients recovering from neurologic injury are discharged from rehabilitation too soon with no place to continue their recovery.  Insurance caps therapy coverage after only a few months and traditional healthcare clinics are unable to continue treatment at an affordable out-of-pocket rate.

NeuroHope’s Director of Therapy, Nora Foster (DPT), and her team of Donna Peterson (PTA) and Sara Sale (DPT) have embarked on a path to fill this void in care. From a purely altruistic motive, and with no experience in healthcare administration, they became devoted to creating a clinic that operates beyond traditional, insurance-based services.

NeuroHope integrates insurance visits with extremely discounted private-pay rates in order to provide patients with long-term care. This involves combining aggressive therapy with wellness goals to maximize recovery and improve quality of life.

In two short years, NeuroHope’s vision has proven successful. The team has created a non-profit outpatient healthcare clinic from scratch, become credentialed with Medicare/Medicaid and commercial insurance, and works with the Krannert School of Physical Therapy at the University of Indianapolis to provide students with Internship and volunteer opportunities.   NeuroHope’s patient-centric model was also the catalyst behind a 2015 change in Indiana law to help fund long-term rehabilitation programs.

Most importantly, Nora and her team have helped 36 patients, ranging from spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy on along their road to recovery.

This recognition is well-deserved for Nora, Sara, and Donna.  Not only for the work they have done to launch NeuroHope, but for the devotion they have shown to all of their patients over the their entire careers.

The 2017 Health Care Heroes Awards will be presented at a special IBJ breakfast at the Hilton Conrad on Friday, March 3rd.

Click here for more information.



New Video and Open House Thanks!

On behalf of the entire NeuroHope team: THANK-YOU to all who came to support our Open House last week!

We had a great turnout and raised more than $4,000 to provide supplemental care for our clients. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the raffles, and to the donors of the items!

If you missed the unveiling of our new video, please watch it below! It provides a glimpse of the clinic we have created, explains our mission of affordable rehab and wellness, and tells the inspiring stories of our patients.

It has been an eventful year, and we have our supporters, patients, friends and family to thank for our success.  We have lofty expectations for the future, and are currently in the midst of a $40,000 campaign to help purchase equipment and sustain services.

If you were unable to attend our Open House and would like to help us reach our goal, you can make a tax-free donation here:  

Every dollar goes directly to patient services, and EVERY DOLLAR HELPS!

Also, registration is open to JOIN OUR TEAM for the 2016 Monumental Marathon!  Walk or run any length, and help us raise money this November.

Thank you for your support!

Open House Pictures and Letter Posted!

ChrisSpeech2Nora, Donna, Allison, and I want to extend a HUGE and heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended our open house last Wednesday. 

What was originally planned to be a small gathering to thank our contributors from last summer's crowdfunding campaign, morphed into a larger event open to anyone interested in our cause and what we are building for Indianapolis.  More than 100 of you came to show your support.  We were thrilled with the turnout and the passion each of you showed with your presence and by the personal conversations we had with many of you.Crowd4

I also want to thank the volunteers that helped organize, set-up, and serve as "staff" for the night.  Justin Davis, Rob Shaw, Katie and Markus Wilds, Jon and Sarah McAfee, Tony Allanson, Callie Burk, and Jonelle Ball were outstanding hosts for the evening.  I've known them all since childhood, and it was pretty special to have them by my side on such an awesome night.

And, how 'bout that eatin'!?  We had some fantastic food generously provided by some of our favorite restaurants.  Pure Eatery (my favorite place in Fountain Square) donated wraps and salads for all.  Iaria's Italian Restaurant supplied the delicious meatballs, and the spread from Indy's own Sushi Boss and Rocket 88 Doughnuts were gobbled up fast.  I'd like to extend a big thanks to those restaurants that sponsored us!

pure logo   rocket88    sushibossiarias




CrowdtableFoodtable2Openhouse Community Table






We have come a long way since our initial fundraising push began last summer.  We've opened our doors, purchased specialized equipment, changed a state law, and have started seeing our first clients.   You have all played a significant role in our early success.  As Allison and I explained on Wednesday, we hope you can help us spread the word past our existing network.   We handed out 10 copies of a pre-written Outreach Letter to each of you that explains our mission and explains our goals.   Now, we humbly ask for your help.   We hope you can find 10 people in your network to send the letter.  We left the title and the signature fields empty for you to fill in the fields or add a personal mesage.  

If you didn't take home the hard copies, you can download the letter and print it out here.  So, no excuses!

If each of you reach out to just 10 family members, friends, co-workers, or social groups, there is a solid chance we will find others interested in NeuroHope and eager to help us reach our goals.  We have an aggressive plan of $50,000 to raise by next spring which will ensure we stay viable until we can apply for money from the new state law.








 Someone in your network may be the key to a major foundation or grant opportunity that can change the lives of many. LET'S FIND THEM!





Our Law to Fund Recovery Programs Signed by Gov. Pence!

Today Senate Act 166, an Indiana state law to help fund long-term physical therapy programs was signed into law by Governor Pence.   It's a special day for NeuroHope, and for all the clients we will serve, because it was written specifically with our mission in mind.

For the last seven months we've worked closely with key state legislators (Sen. Patricia Miller, Sen. Luke Kenley, Rep. David Frizzell, Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer and others) to raise awareness to the glaring void in care for people recovering from traumatic injury.  There are too many families thrown into the world of spinal cord or brain injury who soon realize that the time available for their recovery is severely limited.  Many will be discharged from inpatient rehabilitation after a matter of weeks, with only a small number of outpatiet visits available for the rest of their recovery.

miller chairWe first approached Senator Miller, chair of the Senate Health Committee, last fall to share my story and the vision we had for NeuroHope.  Back in 2007, Senator Miller helped create the Indiana Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Fund.  This is a wonderful fund that proves Indiana is already at the forefront of a changing paradigm of neurologic research and rehabilitation.  Every year, the fund receives about 1.5 million dollars from statewide motor vehicle registrations.  Every two years, the legislature decides the allowance.  Previously, this money was only permitted to be used for research purposes.  Last year for example, 9 researchers received grants for various projects around the state.  One in particular is a very worthwhile study at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana researching diabetes and neurologic injury.  This is great work that will continue, but Senator Miller felt that more could be done with the fund.  She quickly became our leading advocate and introduced the bill that we've helped shepherd through the entire legislative process.   She proposed that a portion of the fund, in addition to it's use for research,  be used for the long-term treatment of neurologic injury.  Specifically, for a clinic that offers extended services at affordable rates after insurance expires – the crux of our mission at NeuroHope.

In January and in March I gave detailed presentations to the Health Committees of both the Indiana House of Representatives and the Senate.  You can read my testimony here.   I explained the compexities of neurologic injury, and how care is limited to the amount dictacted by insurance companies.  I also discussed how an independent organization like NeuroHope, that is willing to provide services outside the boundaries of traditional facilities, will help fill the void in care in Indiana.

Our mesage was clear and our message was heard!  The bill passed each bipartisan committee unopposed. It passed the Senate 47-0.  It passed the House of Representatives 95-0.  Throughout its journey the bill never received a single vote of opposition, and was signed into law by the Governor in April.

What it Means

  • A portion of the money in the Indiana Spinal Cord Injury and Brain Injury Fund must now be granted to a facility that offers: "post-acute extended physical therapy services for individuals with spinal cord and brain injuries at affordable rates".
  • An annual amount of 10{d57c75664ee40cd9f9f9d2c854d19b920dafc77e6732c691aa0b0118029496b3}-15{d57c75664ee40cd9f9f9d2c854d19b920dafc77e6732c691aa0b0118029496b3} of the fund (approximately $150,000 – $225,000) must now be used for this purpose.
  • The 11 member Indiana Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Board approves funding.
  • This opportunity WILL NOT fully fund NeuroHope!  It is simply a fund which we are eligible to apply to for assistance each year.

Our model of service revolves around providing supplemental care for the patients that need it.  That means longer therapy visitis, and more therapy visits.  In order to do this, NeuroHope needs income outside of insurance reimbursement to offset the true cost of therapy. 

As a non-profit, much of our success will always rely on fundraising.  Searching for grants, organizing charitable events, and seeking out individual donors (however large or small), will always play an integral part of our sustainability.  The new law now provides another potential revenue stream. 

It's not often that a grassroots organization like ours is able to help pass a law in a single legislative session.  This would not have been possible without DPT Nora Foster leading our services.  Nora has turned the idea of NeuroHope into reality.   Because of her exceptional standard of care, we have opened our doors to the spinal cord injured community, and have added Donna Peterson (PTA) to our team.  We already have a waitlist for their services.

This law will not fully fund NeuroHope!  Even if we are successful in securing money from the fund, it will not be available until next year. 

Nevertheless this is an important milestone for the healthcare system and for disabled individuals in Indiana and we are honored to be a part of it.