David's story

David Blackwell stands between two of his therapists.

Thirty-five years old and an active dirt bike racer, David Blackwell couldn’t imagine being inactive. But that’s exactly what happened after a dirt bike accident left him with multiple traumatic injuries, including rib, spinal and foot fractures. After two surgeries to set and stabilize his broken bones, David transferred to Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital where his true recovery journey began. On the horizon—the motivational goal he wrote on his care board in his room, “Walk out of here.”

David’s early assessment painted a daunting picture: he required two people to help him transfer from a bed to a chair, and he was completely dependent on assistance for basic bed mobility and daily living activities. David said it was rough, “I did not know how to do anything, I could not get out of bed, I could not sit up. I had to learn how to do everything all over again.”

Focused on his goal to walk out of rehab, David and his physician-led team embarked on an intensive rehabilitation program. Starting with a standing frame to facilitate the challenge of standing and progressing to a walker, David also benefited from therapy that combined exercises with mild electrical stimulation to his muscles, encouraging his nerve response to further engage the muscles in his legs.

The therapists worked with David to improve his standing balance and strength and used functional tasks like stair climbing and vehicle transfers to bolster his endurance and safety awareness. After three weeks, David was walking with assistance from only one person.

Occupational therapy helped David relearn daily living activities such as toileting, brushing his hair and teeth, bathing and dressing. David strengthened his muscles by lifting weights and completing targeted upper arm exercises, eventually managing grooming and dressing tasks independently — a testament to his hard work and the tailored rehabilitation plan.

David’s maintained his motivation throughout recovery with the help of his family. His wife and daughter were a continual presence spurring him on, “This is my second chance to be a dad and do what I need to do,” David said as he looked forward to returning home to his family.

The culmination of David’s efforts was a momentous occasion — walking out of Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital, fulfilling the goal he set on his first day. After three weeks of hard work and a final week dedicated to family education so they were prepared to help him at home, David was ready to return to his family and planned to continue his rehab with home health services.

David had these parting words to share about his time at Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital, “I had a great experience here, everyone was marvelous.”