Capt Roberts Recovery – Bravelets

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Capt Roberts Recovery

Posted on March 03 2015

August 18, 2012 was a typical summer Saturday afternoon...until a late afternoon phone call turned our family's life upside down. The oldest of our 3 children, Robert, was being Bayflited to a trauma center unable to feel his legs after boating with friends in Crystal River, an area that he was unfamiliar with even though he was a licensed Charter Guide. Having jumped in to cool off several times during the day, a late afternoon dive from the boat instantly shattered his neck when he struck something floating in the water. Struggling to surface, he made his way to a friend nearby. Conscious, Robert was able to tell them he was in trouble and they stabilized him in the water and waited for emergency personnel before moving him. The quick thinking of those who were with him saved him from further injury and possibly even death as a piece of his splintered vertebrae rested against his main artery. As a family, we quickly all traveled to the hospital where he would have immediate emergency surgery. After several hours which is all a blur, he arrived in ICU, breathing with a ventilator, swollen and in a drug induced coma. For almost three weeks, he was kept on a ventilator while his body fought the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome that his lungs were subjected to. A small percentage of people recover from the severe lung infection but Robert beat the odds! Leading a very active lifestyle, working hard everyday in the outdoors and being a non-smoker was a key factor in overcoming the illness which he almost succumbed to.
One afternoon during a bedside physical therapy session, he opened his eyes and smiled! There were many ups and downs day to day from that point on but Robert awoke with a determination and drive to get better and started immediately to get his body back to health. He initiated much of his therapy and refused to let anyone do anything that he thought he could try to do on his own. After 53 long, hard days in an acute setting, he was transferred to a rehab hospital 4 hours away to begin to learn how to live with his new situation. While in Rehab therapy, he developed acute swelling in his legs which was diagnosed as Heterotopic Ossification. A bone disease generated by traumatic injury. Rehab facilities for spinal cord injuries generally will only allow 29 days of treatment before releasing you to do the rest "on your own." Spinal cord injuries are never that easy. Rehabilitation takes years and requires daily workouts. Those who suffer with "HO" are especially prone to even more complications without regular intense therapy.
As we found out, Spinal cord injured persons have few options once released from the acute care. If you do not have insurance, you are sent off to a skilled nursing facility where you are generally forgotten when it comes to the necessary therapy needed for recovery. Private facilities as well as private therapists are costly. For aggressive specialized locomotor therapy, insurance doesn't pay for it and it is an out of pocket expense to the injured and their family. In Robert's case, he was not only severely injured but out of work due to his inability to perform necessary functions of his occupation.
We are on a rollercoaster ride. But we are determined to keep pushing forward to keep Robert in therapy as long as it takes. Research shows that through locomotor training, the spinal cord/central nervous system can work independently despite the disconnection between brain and spinal cord. Those who continue to maintain healthy active bodies have the best chance for the regeneration of cells to occur.
Robert loved to fish. It was his life. With his injury, he lost the ability to have a grip in both hands. His fingers do not yet move as they should preventing him from opening a bottle, cutting vegetables or opening drawers and many other small tasks we take for granted everyday. He is working on focusing on the muscles and nerves that will bring that function back with his trainer. Our lives changed forever in a split second. Robert is one of nearly 20,000 people who injure their spinal cords in the United States every year. There are various levels of injury and we feel fortunate that he has as much mobility as he does, however it has been traumatic for the whole family.

Robert is not a quitter. As a family, we cannot allow lack of funding to be the gap between his injury and recovery. PLEASE help us continue the aggressive therapy that is SO necessary for his recovery. Therapy costs average $1000 PER WEEK. Please help by donating to cover these costs if you can and be a part of his recovery.
Fishing Captains, Corporate businesses, Those who love to hunt and fish like Robert does, can all be "partners" in his journey back to health. Read more about Robert at www.captrobertsrecovery.org or on Facebook at CaptRobertsRecovery. Robert is also the Ambassador for Tighten The Drag Foundation, a non profit created after his accident that awards scholarships so that all injured can have HOPE of recovery and opportunity for therapy. Thank you and may God pour blessings out upon you for your kindness.
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