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Bartel makes great strides toward recovery from spinal cord injury

Family will celebrate his 35th birthday at Saturday fundraiser

Staff writer

Eric and Danielle Bartel’s world forever changed when Eric suffered severe spinal injuries in a one-vehicle rollover accident April 19.

He was thrown from the vehicle, and his injuries left him temporarily paralyzed from his neck on down.

Eric made steady progress toward recovery, and by Aug. 13, he had rebounded to the point where he was walking more than 1,000 steps with a cane during physical therapy, picking up small items with his right hand, and riding a recumbent bike.

Danielle has kept a journal of their journey on a website, caringbridge.org, since the day after Eric was injured. She credits God and the prayers of relatives and friends for Eric’s steady progress.

Eric was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Wichita by ambulance and spent a week in the surgical intensive care unit.

Because of his injuries, several of his vertebrae were fused. He showed signs of movement and soon was breathing on his own.

Eric has spent the weeks since then at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska and has continued to make strides toward recovery.

He has advanced to sitting, standing, and walking.

“How do you feel?” Danielle asked him one day.

“I feel the same as I’ve always felt,” he said.

His reply was a reflection of his “extremely positive attitude,” Danielle said.

He is living in an apartment on the Madonna campus and is in a day program of rehabilitation. He has been going home on some weekends and hopes to go home permanently soon.

The Bartels live south of Hillsboro. They have a Peabody address but consider Hillsboro their hometown.

The road has been a rough one for Danielle and their three boys. She spends many days at Lincoln while her parents, Keith and Karen Goossen, who live next door, keep the children.

Twins Mason and Logan started third grade this week, and William started preschool.

Danielle said the hardest thing is not dwelling on what life was like before the accident. She is thankful for her husband’s rapid progress and looks for it to continue.

“He reminded me one day that he didn’t need my help as much anymore,” she said. “It’s difficult for me to patiently watch him, but I’m able to see how much he can do.”

Doctors have told them Eric’s greatest progress will come in the first six months, but it may take as long as two years before his recovery is complete.

He plans to come home permanently Aug. 30.

Eric will be in attendance Saturday at a fundraiser planned for the family at First Mennonite Church in Hillsboro. It will be his 35th birthday. The event will include a cruise-in sponsored by Wichita Clear Bra, an auto customization business that is co-owned by Eric. It specializes in the preservation and protection of vehicles.

A smoked pork meal will be served at 5 p.m. in the church’s fellowship hall.

Danielle’s employer, M.B. Foundation, is a co-sponsor.

Last modified Aug. 21, 2019

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