At 10:35 a.m. on August 19, 2009, Joe Lindsay was pulling out onto Kenny Road in his Ohio State delivery truck when he was hit by a pickup truck. His seat belt came loose and Joe was thrown through the window onto the road. He was rushed to the Emergency Department, where they determined that he suffered spinal cord injuries C3-7. The next day Joe had neurosurgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to repair his spine.

After about a month in Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, Joe was admitted to the Spinal Cord Injury Program in Dodd Hall with incomplete tetraplegia (weakness, spasticity and paralysis involving all four limbs). Joe chokes up when he talks about how Ohio State’s Rehabilitation Program has helped him recover.

“Without the therapists at Dodd Hall, Morehouse and the NeuroRecovery Network Center, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today,” he says. “They care a lot about their patients.”

His therapists, in turn, give Joe credit for doing his part to progress well with his rehabilitation.

“Joe had a great work ethic and ability to push himself,” explains occupational therapist, Amy Grace. “He also did the therapy exercises we gave him to work on at home,” she adds. 

Joe talks about his time at Dodd Hall and his recovery

Joe talks about his time at Dodd Hall and his recovery

When I arrived at Dodd Hall  in September 2009, I could move my legs but couldn’t move my arms. During my two months of inpatient rehabilitation, I had between three to four hours of daily therapy (speech, physical and occupational). All of the therapists were fantastic. They were always right there beside me and helped keep me up and focused on getting better.

I was very motivated to do my therapy because I wanted to walk and be independent. I remember another man in therapy who told me a month ago he couldn’t move his legs. One month after rehabilitation, he said he was walking with a walker.

After my rehabilitation at Dodd Hall I was able to walk with a platform walker, but I was getting around mostly in a power wheelchair. I still needed assistance to eat and perform basic self care. My left arm recovered faster than my right, so I initially I used my left hand to do things, such as dial my cell phone, use a TV remote control and eat with adapted utensils. I still had limited range of arm motion, however, so I couldn’t lift the phone to my ear; I used a speaker phone.

I began the next phase of my rehabilitation in January 2010 with outpatient physical and occupational therapy at Ohio State’s Martha Morehouse Medical Plaza. I had therapy two times a week primarily focused on strengthening my upper and lower body and core muscles and relearning skills. During PT, for example, we focused on things like balance and walking, and transfers from sitting to standing, as well as from wheelchair to bed.

Trips to the zoo, the grocery store and a restaurant were among the activities we did in outpatient occupational therapy. These activities let me practice skills and helped build my confidence in becoming more independent. In addition to building physical endurance, you learn how to navigate places with a wheelchair. It shows you that you don’t have to wait until you’re completely mobile until you are able to get out in the community.

The key to helping me walk again was my participation in the NeuroRecovery Network (NRN). I started the NRN in March 2010 for additional outpatient therapy at Dodd Hall. This program includes intense walking therapy in which you are in a harness over a treadmill supported by therapists. During that time, I progressed from walking with a walker to walking with someone beside me, then walking on my own. I “graduated” from the NRN in November 2010. I can walk unaided, although I have a brace on my lower right leg to keep my foot from dropping to decrease my risk of falling. I also still use a wheelchair for longer distances.

A high point in my rehabilitation was when I was able to go to the 2010 Ohio State/Michigan game with my wife. Before my accident, we used to go to every home Ohio State game.

By the end of my outpatient therapy in November 2010  I was able to do a lot of the things I enjoy doing, such as fixing things and going to the grocery. I can also help out with housework — cooking, vacuuming and doing the dishes. Although I am not 100 percent back to normal, I can do a lot more on my own now. I am really looking forward to driving, which I haven’t done since my accident. I was recommended for Ohio State’s Driver Evaluation Program but wanted to wait until the weather got nicer to start the program. I am still working on building strength and range of motion in my arms every day. If I keep working at it, I hope I will continue seeing improvement.