Michael H


Mt. Mitchell, NC

Injury Level: T6
Injury Date: 9/14/2009


I graduated college on May 9, 2009 from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina with degrees in Forest Management, Business Administration, and Agriculture Business Management.  Before I graduated, I was hired by a line clearance and arboriculture company in Concord, North Carolina, and put into a newly developed management program that put me on an accelerated track to move up the ranks within the company.

I moved to Asheville, NC and started work on June 8, 2009.  I had been on the job about one month when they put me on a “danger” crew, which trims or harvests trees threatening utility lines identified by the customer.  I did that for two months, until I was struck by a ten inch diameter, eight feet long, approximately five hundred pound red oak limb, which fell about forty feet on September 14, 2009.  Due to the action of a Good Samaritan named Steve, I was rushed to Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC.  There they determined all of my injuries: collapsed right lung, fifteen chipped teeth, four broken ribs, laceration on my right leg, sprained left ankle, minor brain injury, one broken vertebrae in neck, three shattered vertebrae in back, and a partially severed spinal cord at level T5-T6.

I was put into an induced coma for two weeks, and was constantly between life and death for a week.  When I woke and was able to travel, I was transported to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA.  Upon my arrival, I was put into their intensive care unit for one week, making my time spent in intensive care exactly one month.  I spent the next two months in inpatient rehab trying to learn and perfect the skills of life from a wheelchair.  I came home for Thanksgiving, and then went back to Atlanta for two weeks of outpatient rehab.  I then came home for good about a week before Christmas.  After Christmas, I started going to CarePartners in Asheville, NC for more outpatient physical therapy.  After about seven months of traditional physical therapy, I had pretty much mastered every skill in a wheelchair.

The problem is, I do not want to be in a wheelchair, and will make every effort to get out of it!  During the last week in August, I moved to Concord to work out of the headquarters of the same company I was with when my injury occurred, and started therapy at Race To Walk.  Here, they have a different philosophy of how to recover from a spinal cord injury.  The therapist and medical professionals that I had been working with, doing traditional physical therapy, had pretty much told me that I had gotten all the return that I was going to get back.  I have fully recovered from every injury that I sustained from my accident, except the spinal cord injury, and I will do whatever it takes to recover as much as I can from that injury.  During all of the traditional physical therapy that I received, I have never been worked as hard or received as much benefit as I have at Race To Walk.

I have already seen signs of improvement with my core, stability, and ability to connect with the muscles below my injury level.  However, my ultimate goal is to one day get out of my wheelchair and walk again.  I know that recovering from a spinal cord injury is a long, hard process, but with help from organizations like Race To Walk and support from family and friends, I hope that my goal will be attainable.


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"I don't even remember what I did with my life before I found Race to Walk. When I was 23, I had a spontaneous brain stem stroke and locked-in syndrome which left me completely paralyzed from head to toe. Soon after, the local rehab hospital ran out [...]"
— Harshada R.
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