In September 2022, we shared the incredible story of one of our patients, April Ballentine. Paralyzed from the chest down, she made history as the first patient in Kentucky to use a ReWalk exoskeleton, a wearable piece of technology that allows patients stand and walk with the support of a body brace and robotic legs. At the time of her interview, April shared her next goal: to walk her daughter down the aisle at her wedding. In late 2022, April Ballentine was able to make that dream a reality as she walked her daughter down the aisle. For Ballentine, that day marked a significant milestone on a nearly decade-long journey.
In August 2013, Ballentine was enjoying an evening out with friends when her ex-boyfriend showed up brandishing a gun. As he aimed at her head, Ballentine was able to block his first shot. Then everything went black. He shot her five times at close range. She recalls waking up for a brief moment hearing sirens wailing in the background before everything went black again. When she woke up the second time, she was at University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital in Lexington, KY. The trauma team stopped the bleeding and saved her life, but Ballentine sustained a T4 spinal cord injury, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.
After weeks in ICU, Ballentine was discharged to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital for inpatient rehabilitation. During her 90-stay, Ballentine worked with a team of therapists to recover and adjust to her life with limited mobility. At times during her therapy, she would try to stand holding herself up with her arms. It took everything in her body to do it. “I recall trying to push myself up, and it almost seemed impossible. That dream was shot really easily,” Ballentine said. But she kept pushing, refusing to let her spinal cord injury keep her from happiness. Her therapists at Cardinal Hill created a plan for Ballentine that helped her adjust to using a wheelchair and care for herself.
Read her story here: April’s story: Defeating death to make history (encompasshealth.com)