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Paralyzed teenager learns to walk again after parents defied doctors

A schoolgirl who became paralyzed after a stroke aged just 11 has stunned doctors by learning to walk again — after her parents made a pact not to tell her doctors said it would be impossible.

Natalie Bentos-Pereira, 16, of North Carolina, was just 11 when she woke up one Friday in 2017 to feel something wasn’t right.

Despite being in pain, Natalie attended school but was later rushed to the hospital by her parents when she was unable to walk.

After several tests and examinations, it was later discovered that Natalie had suffered a stroke.

Natalie Bentos-Pereira, 16, of North Carolina, was paralyzed by a stroke at age 11 but has learned to walk again, despite doctors telling her parents it would be impossible

Natalie Bentos-Pereira, 16, of North Carolina, was paralyzed by a stroke at age 11 but has learned to walk again, despite doctors telling her parents it would be impossible

Natalie Bentos-Pereira suffered a stroke at age 11 (pictured) that left doctors saying she would never walk again

Natalie Bentos-Pereira suffered a stroke at age 11 (pictured) that left doctors saying she would never walk again

Natalie's determined parents, Margaret and Gerado, (pictured) decided not to tell their daughter she would never walk again

Natalie’s determined parents, Margaret and Gerado, (pictured) decided not to tell their daughter she would never walk again

After the stroke (pictured), Natalie had to undergo grueling physical therapy to learn to walk again

After the stroke (pictured), Natalie had to undergo grueling physical therapy to learn to walk again

The doctors told Natalie’s family she would never walk again, but her determined parents, Margaret and Gerado, decided not to tell her the prognosis.

And with the belief that she could always walk again, with a lot of hard work and perseverance, Natalie took her first steps in the year after her illness.

Mother Margaret said, “We both decided we didn’t want her to give herself up. If we had told her that it would have been very depressing, and we would have wanted her to work on her recovery and believe in herself instead of the doctors.”

“A whole team of doctors had looked at her and we finally got our diagnosis. They told us that Natalie would never walk again. I remember my husband telling the doctors, “She will prove you wrong”.

Natalie, 11, was wrapped in a foil blanket after her stroke while being transported from home

Natalie, 11, was wrapped in a foil blanket after her stroke while being transported from home

Memories: Natalie beamed surrounded by her stuffed animals while in hospital after her stroke at age 11

Memories: Natalie beamed surrounded by her stuffed animals while in hospital after her stroke at age 11

Natalie went through years of rehab, her parents explained that she needed a lot of physical therapy to get strong again

Natalie went through years of rehab, her parents explained that she needed a lot of physical therapy to get strong again

After months of physiotherapy, Natalie was slowly able to enjoy activities such as kayaking again

After months of physiotherapy, Natalie was slowly able to enjoy activities such as kayaking again

Natalie's Parents Let Her Work With A Swim Therapist In The Water And She Was Like Her 'Old Self'

Natalie’s Parents Let Her Work With A Swim Therapist In The Water And She Was Like Her ‘Old Self’

Her parents said she always loved swimming and that she 'couldn't wait to see what she could do in the water'

Her parents said she always loved swimming and that she ‘couldn’t wait to see what she could do in the water’

During her rehabilitation, she used exercise bikes to strengthen the muscles in her legs and build strength

During her rehabilitation, she used exercise bikes to strengthen the muscles in her legs and build strength

“We saved Natalie’s doctor’s diagnosis. We never left out the part about her ever again. We didn’t want her to give up hope.

“We told her it would take a lot of therapy and hard work for her to get strong again. The process would take time, it wouldn’t happen overnight.

“We’ve done a lot of therapy over the years. The first year we went to Kennedy Kriger for a month of clinical therapy. They worked with her every day.

‘By the time we left they had her walking with a walker, we were very happy with the result!

Natalie posed in her wheelchair next to her mother Margaret and her older sister during a visit to Washington, DC

Natalie posed in her wheelchair next to her mother Margaret and her older sister during a visit to Washington, DC

Thrilling moment: Natalie glowed in hospital after finally having the cast removed from her legs

Thrilling moment: Natalie glowed in hospital after finally having the cast removed from her legs

Being in a wheelchair didn't stop Natalie from enjoying life and she continued with fun activities

Being in a wheelchair didn’t stop Natalie from enjoying life and she continued with fun activities

In the first year, Natalie went to Kennedy Kriger for a month of clinical therapy and they worked with her every day

In the first year, Natalie went to Kennedy Kriger for a month of clinical therapy and they worked with her every day

‘After that we went there for another two years, for two weeks of outpatient therapy.

‘They’ve done amazing things with her! We also put her with a swim therapist. In the water, Natalie was her old self. She always loved swimming and she couldn’t wait to see what she could do in the water.

“To this day she can swim incredibly well, without using her legs.”

By the time Natalie left the Kennedy Kriger Institute, they let her walk with a walker, which her parents were delighted with.

By the time Natalie left the Kennedy Kriger Institute, they let her walk with a walker, which her parents were delighted with.

Well done: Two years after her stroke, Natalie was out of her wheelchair and using a walker to get around

Well done: Two years after her stroke, Natalie was out of her wheelchair and using a walker to get around

Great news!  Fast forward five years where Natalie can now walk and enjoy her teenage years

Great news! Fast forward five years where Natalie can now walk and enjoy her teenage years

Fast forward five years where Natalie can now walk and enjoy her teenage years.

“Natalie is now 16, almost 17, learning to drive and going to 11th grade.

“When she finishes high school, she hopes to go to college in South Carolina to become a neonatology nurse.

‘Last year Natalie started playing adaptive tennis and would like to continue at university. She’s excited they’re all coming!’

After years of rehabilitation, Natalie gained more confidence in walking after working hard to build her strength

After years of rehabilitation, Natalie gained more confidence in walking after working hard to build her strength

What is a Spinal Stroke?

A stroke is a disruption of the blood supply to the spinal cord.

A disruption in the blood supply to the spine can block nerve impulses traveling along the spinal cord.

Spinal strokes are most common in the anterior spinal artery.

However, most spinal strokes are caused by blood clots in the blood supply.

Spinal strokes are a rare condition and less common than strokes that affect the brain.

Spinal strokes represent only 1.25% of all strokes.

The main symptoms of a stroke are muscle weakness in the legs, changes in sensation (unusual sensations) in the lower half of the body and problems with the bowel and bladder.

Source: brainandspine.org.uk

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