October 17, 2018
“You will never walk again.”
Joe doesn’t remember much about that spring day, but these five words he remembers. Not because they meant he’d spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
But because they inspired him to walk again in spite of it.
On April 28, 2017 Joe Secord went to work like any other day. A roofer for over 25 years, he was no stranger to the precarious nature of his job and always took the necessary measures to ensure safety. Yet, no amount of precaution could prevent the effects of a Michigan spring day when the ladder Joe was climbing on shifted and sank into the thawing soil, causing him to fall three stories before hitting the ground below.
Joe was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a complete T4 thoracic nerve spinal cord injury. The muscle control and sensation in his mid-back, upper chest, abdominal regions, and below were affected, and Joe was placed in a neck and full-body brace for weeks.
Once Joe was cleared to leave the hospital, he was transferred to the transitional rehabilitation program at Hope Network where he could work on re-establishing his mobility and independence. While the speed at which significant improvement occurs varies for everyone, Joe’s progress allowed him to move out of the inpatient setting into an apartment in the community with his wife and daughter only four short months later.
“Joe has no control from his belly button down, but he has a very strong upper body. So we focus on his upper core area with functional positioning exercises to help him gain strength and balance,” says Alicia Hisey, Joe’s physical therapist at Hope Network. “But what’s special about Joe is that he has such a positive attitude and sense of humor. It makes his sessions more fun.”
“They work me hard,” Joe says about his rehab at Hope Network, which he continues on an outpatient basis. “Some days I leave with sore muscles, but I know that’s a good thing, especially if I want to walk better.”
And walk better he can. Despite the odds, Joe can now walk more than 200 feet with the help of a rolling walker, a distance that seemed unachievable just over a year ago.
“Joe is one of the most motivated and determined patients I’ve ever worked with,” says Hisey. “He’s always willing to try new exercises and he’s shown steady improvement the entire time. I have no doubt that his positive outlook plays a role in his unexpected progress with mobility.”
Unexpected? By some perhaps.
He believed all along.