Patient Stories Rehabilitation Care

Life After Loss

September 26, 2011

Life After Loss

Obstacles in life are all in what you make of them. For Tyler Graham, a young survivor of a bad motorcycle crash, no obstacle has too much to overcome.

On August 9, 2010, Graham swerved to avoid a deer. His motorcycle took out a guard rail post.

“I remember hitting the ground,” he recalls. “But I don’t remember the impact or anything. At first I thought this can’t be happening to me – these things don’t happen.”

But they do happen – and it was happening to Graham.

“I tried to stand up, but I couldn’t stand up because my right leg was completely amputated on the scene.”

The crash actually took both of Graham’s legs and severely crushed his arm. But unlike many crash victims – Tyler never lost his desire to get his old life back. That will helped physical therapists at CHI Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Center determine the right course of treatment.

“I asked him, ‘what is your goal? What can we help you do’,” Physical Therapist Lindsay Nichols, PT, DPT, CBIS, says. “He said he wanted to get back to living in his own house. He wanted to be six feet tall again and walking and be able to do what he did before.”

And just six short months later – he was.

Lindsay and a team of rehabilitation specialists worked on maximizing Graham’s independence. That means getting him out of bed and working on strengthening his body as well as his mind.

“Another thing we did was teach him ownership of his legs,” explains Nichols. “He has new limbs. So we desensitized them to get his legs used to having a new end point. It’s kind of like retraining the brain.”

“She kind of pushed me along,” Graham recalls. “She wouldn’t let me quit.”

Lindsay also introduced Tyler to people who knew what he was going through – people just like him.

“There aren’t many people Tyler’s age that are successful bi-lateral above-the-knee amputees. So I went out on the internet.”

Nichols was able to show Graham what was possible – walking, driving, swimming, hanging out with friends, etc.

“It was hard, but it was just one of those things you had to do,” Graham says of his road to recovery. “There was never a doubt I couldn’t do it.”

Graham has his life back. It’s changed a little – but he’s already gotten exactly what he asked of Nichols back in August 2010: to be six feet tall and walking.

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