Story of Recovery: Declan Graham’s Spinal Cord InjuryPatient Experience
Feb 7, 2022
My name is Declan, and this is my story of recovery.
So at Disney, what I did was I worked at Flight of Passage, which is an attraction in Animal Kingdom. It’s based off of the James Cameron movie called “Avatar.”
I had just left work right outside the Animal Kingdom parking lot. And around the first corner, I was cut off, and I went off the road, and I hit a guardrail at 40 miles an hour. And my chest hit the guardrail first, and my body got bent in half over the guardrail.
My spine broke. My ribs broke and went into my lungs. And I sustained a spinal cord injury from that. When I first got to the hospital, my doctor, Villalobos, barged into the ER as they were running tests on me and told them that he was going to take me immediately.
“Everyone stop what you’re doing. He has a lot of pressure on his spine.”
He had to fuse four of my vertebrae together, and put two rods, eight screws in my back, and some chest tubes as well. And the thing that really got me through that was my support system, my family. And I knew I had to keep a strong mental mindset throughout the whole thing. My dad, after doing some research, realized that Brooks was the best place for me to go.
When I first got to Brooks, I could only move the toes on my left foot. And as you see now, I have a lot more mobility. That’s because of Emily pushing me really hard, me pushing myself really hard, always going 110%.
After my time at inpatient, I was given the opportunity to go to Helen’s House. And there’s a shuttle that takes me from there over to the main building. I come here to the NRC for the SCI day program.
My overall goals in the SCI day program is to strengthen my upper body, strengthen my right arm, and most importantly, to strengthen my legs and get my form down to perfection in order to be able to walk. From my experiences here, I can’t think of any other place that is as awesome as Brooks is. I was taken care of so much here. I love this place. It’s like a second home to me.