Positive Attitude Helps Young Man Through Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
Nathan Bowser, 25, of Zillah, Wash., is the brother of a paramedic. He understands the nature of his brother’s work and has even ridden along on response calls. So in summer 2013, when Nathan found himself trapped in the driver’s side of his car – pinned by a tree that had fallen on top of the vehicle in a sudden thunderstorm – he didn’t panic. When paramedics arrived, he calmly told them he couldn’t move anything from his chest down.
Nathan soon found out that in addition to shattered ribs and a broken sternum, he had multiple back fractures, with a T-3 complete spinal cord injury. “At first, it’s overwhelming,” he said. “The first time getting out of bed, the first time in a wheelchair. It’s just a huge shock. But you just have to decide, ‘OK, I’m going to do this.’”
During his time at Shepherd Center, Nathan spread his positive attitude to others, volunteering to greet runners and wheelers during the 2013 Peachtree Road Race. “Looking back, there’s honestly nowhere else I would have rather gone -- not just for what I accomplished there, but in how Shepherd Center prepares you for what’s ahead," he said.
Today, Nathan continues his physical rehabilitation back on the West Coast. “I’m gaining a lot of movement back,” Nathan said. “The therapists here never believe how recent my injury was and how I’m adjusting and progressing. They always attribute that to the work and foundation I received at Shepherd Center.”
Nathan is committed to sharing his story as inspiration for others who have sustained spinal cord injuries. “I remember at Shepherd, past patients would come in and talk," he recalled. "Sometimes, when you’re in this situation, you feel like others don’t know what it’s like, but they know! I want to be that inspiration now for someone else.”
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.