Patient Story

Empowered and Independent: Meet Nicole


In 2019, Nicole became paralyzed below the waist after sustaining a spinal cord injury in a car accident.

She wanted to return to her job as a preschool teacher, but didn’t know what was possible, given her new circumstances. Her physical therapist at DayRehab connected her with our Vocational Rehabilitation program.

Nicole’s vocational counselor guided her through the complexities of workplace accommodations and even accompanied her to the meeting with her employer. She outlined the types of modification Nicole would need to make her workplace accessible.

Her counselor also helped Nicole apply for a grant that paid for modifications to her car, enabling her to drive again — a major milestone and boost to her independence.

“I love vocational rehabilitation!” she said. “They’ve helped me with so much and connected me to so many resources that I never knew existed. Navigating life as a paraplegic, especially at the beginning, can be overwhelming. But my counselor, Jennifer, was always just an email away.”

Nicole is a paraprofessional with Chicago Public Schools. When she’s not working, she participates in a monthly podcast that addresses topics of interest to women living with an impairment. She looks forward to someday becoming a peer mentor with the Henry B. Betts, MD, LIFE Center

Thank you for giving Nicole the support and resources she needed to return to doing what she loves — teaching.


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