Story of Recovery: Ayvian Flecha’s Spinal Cord Injury

Clinical Expertise

Dec 7, 2022

Video Transcript

Maria Rivera

Today’s day 44 since he was hit by the car. Every morning I look back at the beginning and think of where we are in the present day. He cares more about other people, and he’s more considerate, and he doesn’t really sweat the small stuff ’cause things could always be worse.

Ayvian Flecha

I was riding my bike back home. I’m like halfway down the road, and I’m listening to my music, and I look back and I just see really bright headlights, like, too bright, really close. So, I look back, and then that’s when the impact happened. I flip like three times and then I hit the ground. There’s a person trying to help me, a lady that I can hear.

So, she calls EMS, and they take about 10 minutes to get there. And I’m fighting on the floor, just breathing, trying to, you know, not die.

Maria Rivera

He was right down the street from the house. I got a phone call from the witness that he had been hit by a car. So, I immediately went to the hospital. And I went into the ER, and that’s where I found him laying, covered in blood, asking for me to make his back pain stop, and I couldn’t do it. And that’s when I found out he broke his back.

Ayvian Flecha

T5, T6 spinal cord injury.

Maria Rivera

Spinal fluid drain was removed, then he was okay to be transported to Brooks. When we got to Brooks, just hit the ground running. It’s like we can’t wait. The time is now.

Steve Walczak

My name is Steve Walczak. I’m the pediatric program manager over the inpatient pediatric program and our pediatric day program as well. Through his inpatient stay, he was able to improve quite a bit. You know, he left with minimal assistance, I believe.

Maria Rivera

He got to play basketball, he got to even play video games with the Wii for, like, core strength and coordination.

CBS News

And you have been watching a CBS News special report, Hurricane Ian has officially made landfall on Florida’s west coast. The storm is massive, impacting
half of the entire state.

Maria Rivera

While Ayvian was inpatient, we knew that there was a storm coming, originally aimed for Tampa. And just before we knew it, hours before it hit, we knew it was heading straight for Fort Myers where we live. Our entire family’s there. We’ve lived there for a long time. And it’s a great thing that Helen’s House had housing available.

We were safe, we were good as the storm passed, and we watched it on TV as the hurricane just ripped through our community. And the eye-wall was
just west of our house.

Steve Walczak

Our team is so grateful for all the different resources that we have. So, in Ayvian’s specific case, because of how their family and their community was impacted by Hurricane Ian, they actually didn’t really have a discharge plan. We knew that they were ready to transition beyond the inpatient setting, but without that piece of the puzzle, we had to find a different solution. And for them, fortunately, we did have Helen’s House available.

Maria Rivera

Helen’s House is great. It gives us a chance in between, you know, the transition of being inpatient instead of just going home. Helen’s House was probably one of the best things because people come from all over to come to Brooks. And that, you know, where do they stay, where can they stay close by, what’s affordable too? And it gives you a chance to still be with your loved one while they’re going through this.

When the accident happened, Ayvian was still 17. He turned 18 upstairs in inpatient. It just so happened that there’s a new program starting here at Brooks, the pediatric day program.

Slide 1

Steve Walczak

Ayvian, actually, is our first patient in our pediatric day program. For many of our patients, we’re finding that length of stay is becoming shorter and shorter for the inpatient setting. We really created the day program to be an opportunity that patients can still get a lot of the same resources that they need that we are able to provide in the inpatient setting, but now we can do an outpatient.

Maria Rivera

He’ll be able to accomplish more things, learn how to live his life differently as far as getting a job, going back to school. I like that it’s more personalized for him. He gets more one-on-one with the therapy, and he’s getting more out of it, and it’s just geared towards his age and his mindset.

Steve Walczak

Since he’s been here, we’ve really been focusing on his independence, and now he’s able to do so many more tasks on his own without any physical assist. And our hope is that by the time that he finishes the program that he is gonna be able to get back to doing the things that he was doing before. Work on his own. He’s gonna be thinking about next steps with, like, school and career. And really, he’s gonna be plugged into the things that he wants to do. And although it maybe looks a little bit different, he’s gonna be back to being, you know, a regular teenager.

Ayvian Flecha

My plan after leaving Brooks is to find a job and to finish high school and get my diploma. I’m looking for a producer job. I want to do a career in making music.

Steve Walczak

Really, when we’re thinking about the day program and all these services, we’re thinking about how we can create a solution for these kids and families. For Ayvian, we saw that, you know, he was really stuck in a hard spot. And because we were able to create this, we were able to progress their family forward and move them onto the next step. Really, we just want to make sure that kids like Ayvian are not falling through the cracks.

Maria Rivera

This place is really amazing. From the minute we got here, it’s been nothing but reassurance, empathy. The care is here, the science and medicine is here, the support is here. It’s been awesome, and everyone’s been great.

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