At age 27, Chris Serra, of Middletown, Connecticut, was on top of the world. He was completing his master’s degree, teaching health and physical education and coaching. In a few days he would be celebrating his wedding engagement to his fiancé, Amy. All that changed in an instant when a speeding van collided with Chris’ car.
When Chris came to consciousness in intensive care, almost every bone in his body was shattered. His limbs were held together with steel rods and it was uncertain whether he had suffered permanent brain or spinal cord damage.
When Chris’ parents handed him a notepad he wrote, “Am I going to live?” And then, “Is Amy still going to marry me?” They did marry a year later after Chris completed intensive physical rehabilitation at Hospital for Special Care.
Today, Chris describes his therapy as beginning long before he could even sit up in bed. Weeks later, he “graduated” to the parallel bars, fighting excruciating pain but resolutely determined to gain back what mobility he could.
Chris credits his physical and occupational therapists for gently “pushing” him. They adapted to his needs in creative ways; when Chris was in severe pain, they talked sports to distract him.
Chris’ father, Tom Serra, describes the scope of care and caring: “The staff ‘treated’ all of us. My wife and Chris’ fiancé were there day and night, and the family apartments on the grounds of the hospital made a difficult time less stressful.”
“Hospital for Special Care is a beautiful, healing place,” Chris now says. “I saw patients with spinal cord and brain injuries who were struggling, too. It made me want to work harder. The atmosphere was that each of us could succeed.”