Will to Walk Founder Rich Hamill has met people all over the country who live with spinal cord injuries. We would like to introduce you to some of the people who are interested in joining with us to find a cure.
Matt Brandt is a full-time Electrical Supervisor living in Vail, Arizona. He was injured on July 4, 2007 while on vacation in California. Matt keeps a positive attitude and remains committed to health and fitness while science is busy finding a cure for his injuries.
We caught up with Matt and asked him to share his story.
How did your injury occur and what was the extent?
I broke my neck (C-6 incomplete) while body surfing on a boogie board at Laguna Beach, California on July 4, 2007 when I was 50 years old. We went out to the coast for a family vacation got to the beach mid morning and hit the surf. It was my turn to ride the boogie board and what a ride I had.
The surf took me all the way in and dumped me head first on the beach. Thanks to my son being right there to pull me from the tide because I knew I was in trouble.
What was your initial medical care and recovery like?
I was in the local California hospital for about two weeks and after a couple of surgeries, they flew us to Barrows in Phoenix. They told my bride and I we would be there for eight to 10 weeks for rehab. We worked extra hard and were discharged after six weeks. After Barrows, I came home to Tucson and did out patient therapy for a year and a half at St. Joseph’s hospital.
What adaptive tools and methods do you use to stay mobile?
I use an AFO brace and a walker. I recently received a recumbent 3 wheeler from my co-workers and with a degree of difficulty am trying to go a little further each time out.
What is your fitness regime like?
I work out three days a week at the University of Arizona Adaptive Gym and swim at the City of Tucson Adaptive Pool. I also have a work out plan I do at home two days a week.
What are your biggest frustrations?
One thing that bothers me is that it seems like there is little communication between resources between different cities. I have had physical therapists in Tucson ask me about what facilities exist in Phoenix, and vice-versa. It seems like a real waste of effort for these organizations not to share information more.
How do you stay positive while you wait for a cure?
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think “I wish I would have…” but then again I look at how bad it could be and how much more other folks have to deal with. Yesterday is gone and today is a gift and it is up to me what I am going to do with it…Try harder.”