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A Neurotrauma Tale TIMES TWO 9 InnovativeHealthMag.com DR. JR HARDING UNCOMMON COURAGE, Football can be a violent game, with recent medical analysis showing increasing incidences of concussions and spinal cord injuries. It was high school football that got JR Harding, then 6’5” and 230 pounds and already with a college football scholarship. It was a Saturday evening five days before his 17th birthday, but the night After The Big Game! “We were a high-powered program in a small community that almost always won,” JR reflects, “but unfortunately we lost the night before to miss the playoffs. A couple of the team captains were envious of my status and influence among the younger players and, coupled with the loss, took out their frustrations by jumping me.” The instant Harding hit the ground he knew he sustained a devastating injury. “Life changed right then! One second I am walking, healthy with a full ride; the next all that is gone.” To make the tragic scene surreal, his attackers became those who had to provide the initial first-aid, based on JR’s instruction from his Boy Scout and lifeguard training. While JR knew instinctively at the moment of his attack he was paralyzed, there is a wide gap between knowing it and accepting the permanence. “I was still in shock – you somehow think it will all be temporary – you just don’t quite get it yet. Your life seems to come to an end but the rest of the world goes on and that is hard. You lack freedom and independence – to go out or to bed when you want, to make love to a girl. You are no longer the master of your own schedule, and you enter this with absolutely no background to prepare you for it.” It soon came time for JR to use a wheelchair and the choice between a manual versus powerchair, and he says, “the jock suddenly came back to me, and I told everyone despite the obstacles I would use the manual one. As an athlete, therapy made sense because it was practicing movements every day. It took me eight days but the first time I moved that chair 8 inches was like winning an Olympic Medal.” Though the football scholarship was gone, JR needed his education more than ever and enrolled at Western Kentucky University to become the only significantly disabled student out of 32,000. “It


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