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Patient Stories:Eddy Rodriguez
In the fall of 2014, rounding a curve on his motorcycle in New Canaan on a beautiful fall day, Heriberto “Eddy” Rodriguez was enjoying riding with several of his friends. The next thing he remembered was waking up at Hartford Hospital. A state trooper told him he crashed head-on into a minivan. The exact details are still unclear… but the result is not.
Eddy suffered multiple injuries, the most serious and longest lasting of which was a spinal cord injury that resulted in loss of feeling and movement in his legs. After 11 days at Hartford Hospital, Eddy came to Hospital for Special Care’s Medical Rehabilitation Unit.
A graduate of Hartford High School, a veteran of four years in the Marines and a para-transit driver for Greater Hartford Transit District, Eddy was now faced with, as he describes it, “dealing with the reality of it all.”
For the next three months Eddy worked on healing and preparing for a life with new challenges. He worked closely with occupational and physical therapists to learn about his new body and how to get the most from it. With no feeling in his legs, Eddy had to relearn how to balance himself in all positions since his center of gravity had changed. In addition, he was learning how to dress and care for himself - all a part of his “new reality.”
Eddy was discharged in January with home care and eventually started outpatient therapy at HSC. At the same time, therapy staff was reviewing options for devices that could assist individuals with injuries such as Eddy has to walk. After evaluating different options, HSC decided to begin working with the ReWalk Personal Exoskeleton.
The first apparatus was paid for by the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) and a corporate donor, the Cowen Tax Advisory Group. HSC staff was educated extensively on the system and how individuals should be trained and supported to use the apparatus. After an exhaustive review to find an individual who met the criteria for the ReWalk, Eddy became the first person at HSC (and in Connecticut) to be trained. His training began in May, 2015.
As Jenna Murphy, DPT notes, “Eddy is one of the most dedicated and motivated patients I have ever had. He wants to be as independent and self-supportive as he can be.” Eddy now comes to HSC four times a week to practice walking and for rehabilitation therapy to maintain and continue to build upper body strength and stamina.
HSC now has one other patient using the ReWalk system and another will begin soon. Eddy’s goal is to obtain a ReWalk for his personal use which will give him more independence and enhance his general health. Eddy has enrolled at Capitol Community College and is pursuing a degree in Computer Information Systems. He will soon begin to search for an entry level position in the insurance industry as he moves forward on his career path.
Given his track record, his dedication, and his smile, we have no doubts that he will succeed in reshaping his “new reality” to his liking.