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Defying the Odds: Sergio’s Comeback Story

September 8, 2020

It’s hard to pinpoint just what’s most remarkable about Sergio. Is it that he’s walking again when they said he wouldn’t? That he’s maintained a positive attitude despite a number of obstacles?

Or maybe that he survived the accident at all?

On July 20, 2019, 23-year old Sergio was riding his motorcycle when he collided with an oncoming vehicle at a high rate of speed. Thrown from his bike and in grave condition, Sergio was immediately administered CPR by bystanders hoping they could keep him alive until an ambulance reached the scene.

At the hospital, Sergio went into acute respiratory failure and was immediately given a tracheostomy and put on a ventilator. Doctors soon discovered the true extent of Sergio’s injuries; significant swelling in his brain, lung contusions, damage to his liver and spleen, and severe fractures in his pelvis, legs, and neck.

Sergio’s family was warned that he may not survive. And if he did, they weren’t sure if he’d ever walk again. Talk again. Really live again.

Except that he did.

Despite the number and severity of his injuries, Sergio began to improve. The tracheostomy and ventilator were removed. He was discharged from the hospital and transferred to subacute care. Just six months later Sergio reached a level of progress that supported a move to the inpatient transitional program at Hope Network Neuro Rehabilitation. Here, he would relearn the skills needed to resume his life back in the community.

But recovery would not be easy.

“When Sergio started in our program…he was pretty much dependent on care for everything,” says Karina Veenstra, Sergio’s case manager and social worker. He was “not able to do much for himself at all at that point.”

Yet, the team at Hope Network have seen many unexpected comebacks happen.

Each patient’s situation is unique, everyone’s needs are different, and therefore their care has to be unique to their circumstances. In Sergio’s case, all team members collaborated daily on his needs and goals, and determined how to help him work around different barriers that he experienced.

For Sergio, that began with helping him understand the value of rehabilitation, even when the process didn’t always seem to make sense. “He began to voice concerns with feeling like he wanted more independence,” says Karina, “we wanted to make sure he knew we were listening, so the team helped him understand the process, and encouraged him to work through barriers so that he could continue to work on his goals.”

Their encouragement worked.

“Sergio had certain goals that he wanted to achieve, and he was ready and rearing to go for a lot of them,” says Karina. “It was really neat to see his insight and awareness improve, he was able to see how each of the things he did day to day in therapies helped him grow – and he was able to see that he was reaching those goals.”

In fact, Sergio’s improvements were substantial enough that he was transferred to Arbor Glen, one of Hope’s residential homes where he could prepare for his next level of care: home.

“It was a big step for Sergio and his family to transition from our transitional rehabilitation program into a more long-term setting,” Karina explains. “We wanted them to feel as comfortable as possible, so we took the steps needed to help them feel confident along the way.”

Arbor Glen was only a temporary stop for Sergio while home modifications were made, and staff helped prepare the family for his arrival. Our team made sure he had the equipment he needed, and that his family received the caregiver training necessary to make his transition a success.

Sergio has transitioned back home with family; participating in outpatient therapy where he continues to defy the odds in other ways – he is beginning to walk again. He’s regaining the use of his left side, despite earlier predictions that he’d never be able to do so, and he’s finding joy in a life that was nearly lost.

“Sergio has been such a joy to have here,” says Karina. “To see his mood, his attitude, and his excitement about the progress he continues to make. Sergio’s told me that he’s so glad that he has a second chance at life. I think that’s a true testament to what he’s gone through and how far he’s come.”

And that’s remarkable.




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