Florham Park, New Jersey- Cheshire Home, a partner of Healing Innovations, is proud to share an inspiring success story about one of their residents, Bryan. Bryan’s journey began after he suffered a C2 through C8 spinal cord injury when he fell down 18 stairs, landing on a concrete floor while renovating an unoccupied home in 2016. He lay at the bottom of the steps for 18 hours before a friend found him. His diagnosis was quadriplegic incomplete, which, at the time, took him from the ability to move anything below his neck. Over the next few months, he would go through three spinal fusions and would have hardware inserted in his neck to stabilize his head. Doctors told Bryan it would be years before he might see any change in his condition, if at all.
After his injury, Bryan spent the next six months in the hospital and then was transferred to a nursing home before coming to Cheshire Home in 2017. At this point in his recovery, Bryan had regained some use of his hands. Shortly after arriving at Cheshire Home, Bryan started to feel tingling in his legs and toes, a positive sign for anyone who has experienced a spinal cord injury.
Bryan stated he went through several emotional phases after settling in at Cheshire Home. As his new reality sank in, he went through a “why me” stage, then became angry at the world, and then fell into a deep depression. He suffered extreme anxiety, which led to panic attacks. “All of a sudden, I couldn’t walk anymore,” Bryan said, and he felt hopeless about what the future held.
With the care of the nursing staff at Cheshire Home, who sat by his bedside, calming him down, holding his hand, and telling him everything would be okay, Bryan slowly started to have hope for the future. “This isn’t me,” Bryan said to himself after spending months fearing the life that lay ahead. The only thing that went through his mind was, “I have to get back to being Bryan again.” He began to accept his injury and was determined to get his life back, even if it was just quality of life. “They got me through the hardest time in my life,” Bryan said about the staff at Cheshire Home. “They have been family ever since.”
Bryan started his recovery journey and began working with the Physical and Occupational Therapy Department at Cheshire Home. He started to regain some of the use of his hands and arms while working with the Director of Therapy, Lauren Rosario. He was determined and worked hard, in and out of the therapy room. “I wasn’t going to give up,” Bryan said. He noted three things necessary to overcome an injury such as his desire to get better, patience, and faith. “Without these three things, you will never get better,” he said.
A significant turning point in his recovery was when the Cheshire Home Physical Therapy Department leased a cutting-edge machine called the Rise&Walk, a full-spectrum gait trainer that also helps improve core strength. Bryan was the first resident to use the machine. “The first time I stood up out of my chair, it was an unbelievable feeling,” Bryan said. “It felt like I was getting my life back. I finally had hope for the future, and it motivated me.” Working under the direction of Cheshire Home Lead Physical Therapist Bethany Greenfield, Bryan began to make progress.
“It was exhilarating,” Bryan said after taking 1,700 steps the first time he used the Rise&Walk. “It was the first time I thought I could possibly get function back in my legs.” Bryan began to improve every time he used the Rise&Walk. “It changed my mindset. I thought, ‘I can do to do this,’ and it motivated me to keep pushing.”
After six months of using the Rise&Walk, Bryan was able to roll from side to side in bed. He now had the ability to use his own strength to pull his legs off the side of the bed and sit up on his own. He eventually was able to transfer to his chair, a skill necessary to live independently. “Working with OT and PT, I was able to get myself in my chair and do the things I needed to live independently,” Bryan said. With a positive attitude, renewed hope for the future, and the motivation of the Cheshire Home staff, he began to improve. “The magic happens when you put the effort in,” Bryan said.
In September 2023, Bryan moved into Cheshire Home III, a group home that provides a comfortable, fully accessible residence for adults with physical disabilities. “Cheshire Home became my family; without them, I would never have been able to be independent,” Bryan said. “They gave me the strength, comfort and the help I needed. Without them, I would not be where I am today.”
Bryan is taking things one day at a time and said he now has peace of mind, knowing that everything is going to be okay. He has physical therapy twice a week at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and now cooks for himself. “Cheshire Home is a blessing, a one-of-a-kind place, and there is no other place like it,” Bryan said. “I have my life back because of Cheshire Home, and the only thing standing between me and walking again are four wheels.”