The Natalie Barnhard Center

for Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation and Recovery

In Collaboration with

Why Us?

There are certain things you should look for and questions to ask when selecting a place for your rehabilitation and treatment. It is important to be confident about the quality of care you or your loved one will receive.

Motion Project is dedicated to improving the lives of those with a spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and other neurological disorders. We provide an intense, activity based exercise program working to achieve some of the most basic lifelong functions and benefits for our clients. We all know how important exercise is for overall health, even more important for those living with paralysis.

By specializing in this area, it enables our staff to develop high levels of expertise and achieve better results for our clients. When it comes to functional improvements, our clients have better outcomes and more independence.

Motion Project is committed to extending assistance to clients beyond clinical settings. Our ambassadors provide guidance, support, and resources to the injured individuals and their families, accompanying them through the challenging journey. This comprehensive support is delivered through the Motion Project CARES program, which focuses on community engagement, advocacy, resource provision, education, and emotional support.

Ensuring not only the achievement of physical milestones but also the availability of educational support and essential services for a fulfilling life is paramount. Our initiatives encompass social events for networking, educational sessions, practical tips, and more. Stay informed about upcoming events on our event page, featuring “Wheelz Mafia” – a social support group, “Wheels of Worship” a faith support group catering to all individuals with SCI/D and their families and “Wheely”Good Friends” working close to lift and support caregivers.

What We Do

Motion Project is not a general rehabilitation facility like the majority of facilities you may find. It means we have more experience working with the spinal cord injured population. We focus on the client’s weaknesses and work on coordinating the entire body in a very functional and complete style of rehabilitation.   Most other facilities tend to focus only on the client’s current abilities and don’t work with the affected areas to improve motor function overall. Motion Project works to support the whole person to assist with advocacy, care navigation and spiritual healing. We help educate clients and families so they know what to expect moving forward with a spinal cord injury.   Motion Project is not just about the physical gains, but we strive to work together to get clients back to work, to school, or into sports pursuing their dreams. Our goal is to support each client to reach their goals to live a full, productive, healthy life.

Motion Project CARES Program


AND….. stay tuned for our upcoming groups and events!

• Wheely Good Friends (caregiver support)
• Wheels of Worship (faith based worship/ fellowship group)
• Wheelz Mafia (support/social group- all things SCI/D)

What We Treat

Spinal Cord Injury
Cerebral Palsy
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Spina Bifida
SMA (spinal muscle atrophy)
Transverse Myelitis
AFM (acute flaccid myelitis)

Mitochondrial Deficiencies
Post-surgery strengthening

What is Activity Based Therapy?

Activity Based Therapy (ABT) uses tools and interventions to promote neuro-recovery to improve muscle activation or sensory function below the level of injury in the spinal cord. These interventions often involve weight-bearing through lower limbs, whole-body coordination exercises, developmental sequence activities, and task-specific training performed mainly out of the wheelchair, in positions where the trunk must work against gravity. This is often combined with facilitation or vibration techniques, functional electric stimulation, body weight supported locomotor training (manual or robotic); upper extremity robotics, task-specific patterned motor activity, and progressive resistance training to build strength and endurance.

Often at the individual’s own expense, this program offers the opportunity to continue work on recovery of function after conventional rehabilitation has been completed. Conventional therapy often focuses on the use of the preserved muscles to achieve compensatory functioning, whereas ABT attempts to activate muscles below the level of the lesion, with the goal of retraining the nervous system to recover a specific motor task.

ABT also benefits overall health and well being and can reduce potential secondary complications that result from paralysis. While there is no cure for spinal cord injuries or paralysis, the ultimate aim of rehabilitation is to facilitate the return to a productive and satisfying life

• Approximately 5,357,970 people living in the U.S. reported they were living with some form of paralysis, defined as the inability to move the upper or lower extremities.

• The leading cause of paralysis was stroke (33.7 percent), followed by spinal cord injury (27.3 percent) and multiple sclerosis (18.6 percent).

• Lengths of stay in the hospital acute care unit have declined to 11 days

• Lengths of stay in rehabilitation have declined 31 days

Motion Project Foundation and The Natalie Barnhard Center for Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation and Recovery is dedicated to improving the lives of those with a spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and other neurological disorders.

Our mission is to inspire those with various neurological injuries or disorders to rise above their challenges by promoting physical independence; and providing emotional support and spiritual healing to foster hope for a successful and fulfilling life.

Our new comprehensive facility is unique in Western New York, being the first and only place to offer services currently unavailable anywhere in the region or within 300 miles outside of WNY. Offering world leading robotic rehabilitation devices

A place for people to come to recover after a life-changing spinal cord injury. We never stop moving forward to bring the best outcomes for individuals as they progress through their journey toward recovery.

We provide :
• Activity Based Therapy
• State of the art equipment
• World Leading Robotics
• Exceptionally Trained Therapists
• Assistive technologies
• Peer Support
• Care Navigation
• Spiritual Guidance
• Adaptive sports and Recreation
• Community Center for Advocacy & Support

Along with our collaboration with the University of Buffalo we are going to implement outreach and education programs to elevate the voices of people living with paralysis and their families through education and outreach efforts in the areas of community-based long-term services and supports, enhanced family caregiver support, and access to rehabilitation technologies.

Please follow us and share pictures and comments on our social media:
Instagram/ Twitter: @MotionProjectNY
Facebook/ LinkedIn: Motion Project Foundation

Our Equipment


by Hocoma

The world’s first upper extremity concept that enables therapists to deliver higher training efficiency that provides arm weight support, the ArmeoSpring enables patients to use any remaining motor function and encourages them to achieve a higher number of reach and grasp movements based on specific therapy goals.

The ArmeoSpring allows simultaneous arm and hand training in an extensive 3D workspace with six degrees of freedom.
The ergonomic and adjustable exoskeleton of the ArmeoSpring embraces the whole arm, from shoulder to hand, and counterbalances the weight of the patient’s arm.

An extensive library of motivating game-like Augmented Performance Feedback exercises has been designed to train core movement patterns that are commonly used in activities of daily living.

Giger MD

The Giger MD hybrid is a medical device that allows for active simultaneous and coordinated movements of both upper and lower extremities. The hybrid model contains logic, arithmetic, and speech activities as well as visual biofeedback graphs that are preprogrammed into the software to improve cognitive skills during active motion. The Giger places the client in a horizontal position which eliminates the effects of gravity, therefore allowing him/her to perform the task without difficulty and/or place stress on the joints.

This device has been clinically shown to help the brain re-learn rhythmic patterns, such as walking, and connect upper and lower body movements. Clients who have benefited from this device include spinal cord injuries, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and other neurological disorders.

Madonna ICare

by Sports Art

The Madonna iCare is a motor assisted elliptical with body weight support that can help people with physical disabilities regain walking and fitness abilities. The iCare enables synchronous upper and lower limb movements similar to the natural walking pattern and clinically shown to improve muscle activation in the legs. Trainers can change the speed, resistance, body weight support, motor or non-motorized assistance, and stride length in order to accommodate nearly all individuals and ages with varying disabilities. A ramp is also included for easy setup access.

Published research on the Madonna iCare has demonstrated physiological improvements in individuals with stroke, SCI, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, Guillain-barré disease, and other neurological or physical impairments.

NuStep Transitt

by Transitt

The NuStep Transitt is an exercise machine that assists in strength and cardiovascular training. The Transitt has 12 preprogrammed exercises that are categorized based on exercise type or body region. Some of the programs that the Transitt offers are paddle-ball, climbing, and ankle control. Additionally, users can create their own account and are provided with real-time visual biofeedback for tracking their progress of motor control, strength, and endurance during a training session. The Transitt also calculates body weight to determine the appropriate exercise parameters.

Because of its inclusive design features, the Transitt allows for a low impact workout that benefits individuals of all ages, fitness levels, and injuries including but not limited to: spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and cerebral palsy. Increased circulation, stability, and range of motion of both upper and lower extremities are some of the many benefits to using the Transitt.

RT300 FES bike

The RT300 functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike is a motorized bicycle that combines functional electrical stimulation to maintain/increase muscle mass in leg and core muscles. Depending on the goal of the session, the motor can provide assistance or resistance while performing mass repetitions of rhythmic cycling. Leg movements are sequenced with FES evoked muscular contractions at the precise time and degree of rotation. The software provides biofeedback and data tracking for accurate measurements of physiological outputs.

The RT300 bike is designed for a wide range of neurological impairments. With wheelchair restraints, clients can safely secure themselves into the leg supports of the bike for proper alignment.

The Lokomat®

by Hocoma

The Lokomat® is the world leading robotic rehabilitation device that offers highly intensive, physiologic training. The Lokomat® improves the therapy outcome by providing highly intensive, individualized training in a motivational environment of constant feedback.

Advantages of Lokomat® Therapy:

• Effective Rehabilitation Training
Robot-assisted therapy enables effective and intensive training to increase the strength of muscles and the range of motion of joints.

• Most Physiological Movement
The physiological movement of the lower extremities is ensured by the individually adjustable patient interface. Additionally, the hip and knee joint angles can be adjusted during training to the patient’s specific needs.

• Optimal Patient Challenge
During rehabilitation, patients need to be challenged. Therapists can help patients reach their goals by setting the training parameters according to their performance.

• Increased Efficiency
The Lokomat® allows therapists to focus on the patient and the actual therapy. It enhances staff efficiency and safety, leading to higher training intensity, more treatments per therapist, and consistent, superior patient care.

• State-of-the-Art Gait Rehabilitation
Patients are increasingly more informed about what the most effective and efficient therapy is, and they use this information to decide where to go for their rehabilitation.


The UpperTone is an upper body workout machine designed for people with cervical spinal cord injuries. Designed by a person with quadriplegia, the UpperTone enables users to adjust resistance and exercises without any assistance or grip strength.


Our parallel bars include whole-body vibrations which are beneficial to clients who suffer from spinal cord injuries, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, amputations, transverse myelitis, and other neurological disorders. This stimulation has shown improvements with increased activity in the lower and upper extremities.

The theory is that vibration therapy assists with increasing bone density, reducing muscle spasticity, increasing muscle tone, improvements in balance, posture, and building muscle.

Improvement may occur with gait or walking function for those with incomplete spinal cord injury. Individuals with stroke have noticed postural improvement leading to fewer falls. For those with Parkinson’s disease, there could be an improvement in balance and function. For those with multiple sclerosis, improvement in lower leg strength, posture, spasticity, and function have been noted.

These may seem like small improvements for anyone’s therapy, but they can be extremely significant for quality of life and functional gains.


by Restorative Therapies

The Xcite2 FES utilizes functional electrical stimulation (FES) for task-specific activities. The FES targets peripheral nerves to facilitate muscular contractions during activities commonly used in daily living. Each pre-programmed task in the software is meticulously timed to activate specific muscles in a correct sequenced stimulation pattern to perform the prescribed activity.

With 40 pre-programmed integrated activities to help with activities of daily living such as hand strengthening, learning to grasp or feeding to postural re-training, transfers and upper/lower mobility skills – nearly any individual with neurological weakness or paralysis will benefit from using Xcite2.

Xcite2 enhances the impact of the traditional therapeutic activities that support muscle re-education by:

– Enhancing active muscle contractions
– Facilitating dynamic, reciprocal movement patterns for normalized input
– Providing patient feedback with an animated display and audio cues


The ZeroG is a robotic body weight support system used for gait and balance training. It can provide constant unloading, up to 95% of a client’s body weight, during movements and can be changed by pounds to alter therapy intensity. The ZeroG has a programmed sensor that anticipates and reacts to patient movements for fall protection during sessions. Real-time visual biofeedback is also provided using interactive balance training modules and games.

Balance recovery involving rapid compensatory stepping is essential to prevent falling. As the first technology to apply perturbations in a safe and controlled manner, ZeroG offers TRiP (training responses in postural rehabilitation) balance training during ambulation or stationary activities to improve stability and reduce risk of falls. Training sessions with the ZeroG can include sit to stands, crawling, overground walking, reaching tasks, balance training, and stair activities.

Apply Now To See If You Qualify!

Please fill out & email completed form to:
or print and mail to Motion Project Foundation, 4820 Genesee Street, Cheektowaga, New York 14225.

Supplemental Grant Special!

Apply Now for help with costs for The Natalie Barnhard Center.
Please fill out and submit with Client Application.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is your program?
Our specialized therapists work with clients out of their chairs on functional and dynamic movements based on our specialized techniques and our client’s goals.  We strive to improve independence and quality of life.

How is your program different from Physical Therapy (PT)?
Most spinal cord injured take much longer to recover than tradition short term, doctor prescribed rehabilitation.  Since we focus more on lifelong recovery, we work on a full body recovery, and thus target your weaknesses.

How much does the program cost?
Each client has individual needs and goals. Our sessions include working one-on-one with a specially trained therapist as well as additional staff when needed to perform more difficult activities. The cost of a session is $100/hour. There is also a gym membership which allows use of the equipment for those just looking to stay healthy and can work out on their own or with a caregiver. During COVID-19 there may be restrictions.

How many hours a day and how many days a week would I be working out?
Our staff would work with your individual need to develop a program that works best for you.  Some clients may need 2-3 days a week for 2-3 hours a session.  Others may find 2 days a week with 2 hours a session.  Each client has individual needs and goals.  Others will utilize the gym and equipment either on their own if capable, or with a caregiver for assistance.

What are the qualifications of our staff?
All of our staff carry a bachelor/master degree in Exercise Science/Kinesiology.  Our staff is also specially trained to work with the spinal cord populations and continue to study the latest techniques and best approach to treatment.

How long is the program?
Every spinal cord injury is different requiring individualized treatment plans to meet the client’s unique goals and achieve the best outcomes.  Some clients attend for a few months to a year while others spend many years actively participating in our program for overall health and maintenance…recovery is a lifelong process.

Why is this declined to be covered by insurance companies?
We are not a medical facility, so most insurance companies will not cover treatment.  Most insurance puts a time frame on recovery with specific goals for payment.  Since most SCI’s vary from individual to individual, it makes it difficult to put a timeline on recovery.  It may take months, or perhaps years depending on that individual’s goals.  It is our hope that our long term goals bridge the gap between our program and insurance coverage.  Many clients choose to do some type of fund raising or look for grant opportunities to help fund their treatment goals.  Please refer to a list of possible organizations on our foundation page under the resource tab.

Where can I stay if coming from out of town?
Info to come…

Apply Now!

Please fill out & email completed form to:
or print and mail to Motion Project Foundation, 4820 Genesee Street, Cheektowaga, New York 14225.

Please read for your information.

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