Recovery from neurologic injury is incredibly slow, and it soon became evident that Chris was running out of time. In spite of an excellent insurance plan, his coverage to remain at the rehab hospital and to continue the therapy he needed would soon expire. The injured quickly become victims of statistics, as insurance companies put a cap on coverage. His family fought hard to keep him in therapy as long as possible. In spite of his documented gains, Chris was discharged 8 weeks after his injury.
Chris had to leave the one place he thought represented hope for him to improve.
His body was still mostly paralyzed. He needed multiple people to transfer him to a chair, bath, dress, and care for him. His blood pressure could only tolerate being upright in a chair for minutes at a time. He looked over a therapy gym full of equipment he hoped he could eventually use as his therapy progressed, but before his body was ready for it – Chris was forced to leave.
He remembers that day being the single hardest day for his emotions to handle.
There were two options.
- Move home, hire a nursing staff, remodel the house and find a van transport to attend 60 minute therapy sessions twice a week until that too expired after 30 visits.
- Move to nursing home that, while unequipped to care for a recent quadriplegic, may provide some therapy.
His family researched all the nursing homes in the area and found one that offered physical and occupational therapy.
The therapists at this facility were not experts in SCI, but were caring and extremely dedicated. After initially being wheeled in on a stretcher, over the course of 4 months he gradually learned to sit, transfer from bed to chair, stand, rid himself of catheters and bowel programs, and actually take steps with a platform walker.
Insurance ran out again (this time at the subacute level) in early 2011. Chris was still wheelchair bound, but he was making great progress. He simply needed more time, and was determined to find access to the best resources in the world for neurologic recovery.
The Leeuw family was introduced to Neuroworx, a specialty clinic for spinal cord injury in South Jordan, Utah. Dr. Dale Hull, and DPT Jan Black founded Neuroworx in 2004 after Dr. Hull suffered a spinal cord injury. Hull and Black discovered there was a void in recovery options for people recovering from injury, and they did something about it.
Chris and his mother Monice (who had become his caregiver) traveled to Neuroworx in February of 2011. There, he was able to spend a year and a half intensely working to relearn and rebuild what he could. His efforts, and the access he had to a remarkable therapy team with a remarkable vision paid off. By May of 2012, Chris had left his wheel chair and cane behind and was bicycling a recumbent bike, driving a car, and able to return to independent living.
Chris’s experience has changed his life.
He and his family are eager to follow the example set by Neuroworx, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and others to help change the paradigm of rehabilitation and wellness for the disabled in Indiana.