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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Balenger Inspires at APTA NEXT 2016

Published June 13, 2016 9:10 AM by Katherine Bortz

The APTA NEXT 2016 conference kicked off on June 8 with an inspiring story of how physical therapy can truly transform lives.

Nick Balenger was vacationing in Hawaii when he dove into the ocean. Instead of plummeting into deep water, he hit the sandbar and suffered a severe spinal cord injury, dislocating the C4 and C5 vertebrae. Just prior to the injury, Balenger helped lead the Lake Braddock Secondary School baseball team to victory in the Virginia state baseball championships as pitcher. After the injury, he was told he would never walk again.

"For about 3 weeks, I was in the ICU of the Maui Memorial Hospital, unable to move anything below my neck other than my biceps. So about all I could do was punch myself in the face," Balenger said.

Everything changed the day that he realized he was able to make very small movements with his leg.

"I knew I would take that fraction of an inch, turn it into 2 inches, 6 inches and before long a whole step," he said. By his high school graduation in 2013, only a year later, he was able to walk across the stage to receive his diploma with the help of a crutch.

During his speech, he thanked his physical therapists for where he is today and for not giving up on him.

Have you dealt with remarkable cases like Nick's? Has a physical therapist personally changed your life for the better? Comment below!

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