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College Student Learns to Walk Again After Near-Fatal Crash

A young college student living in Orlando, 25-year-old Samir enjoyed partying and hanging out with his friends. At a party for a friend leaving for military duty, Samir made a tragic mistake that nearly cost him his life. After consuming several alcoholic drinks, Samir and a friend left the party. Samir declined his friend's offer to stay the night and drove himself home. Just miles away from his house, Samir's car struck a utility pole. He was unresponsive at the accident scene, and medics rushed Samir by helicopter to an Orlando hospital.

Samir suffered multiple fractures to his legs, arms, neck, spine and pelvis, as well as a traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. While hospitalized in Orlando, he was unresponsive in a coma and on a ventilator. His family was told that his condition was life threatening.

"The doctors told my parents that I may never walk again and that I could remain in a vegetative state so they should consider taking me off the ventilator," says Samir. "My family refused to take me off of life support and stayed by my side, hoping for a miracle."

After more than two months in a coma, Samir began to show signs of recovery.

"My family specifically requested that I be transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of South Florida at Memorial Regional Hospital South to be near my family and to receive the best care in South Florida," says Samir. "Without a doubt, they made the best decision for me."

Determination and Support: A Powerful Combination

With no motor function in his arms or legs, but now under the care of a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, therapists and other specialists, Samir's hard road to recovery began.

"In the beginning, I couldn't talk, feed myself, put my socks on or take a shower," says Samir. "But, I had the support of my family, friends and the entire rehabilitation team. Everyone gave me such great care and attention that I felt really special. I realize now that they treat all their patients that way at Memorial."

Samir's personalized inpatient rehabilitation plan included daily sessions for speech, occupational, recreational and physical therapy.

"The biggest challenge I faced was learning to walk again," says Samir. "I'd imagine myself walking in the mall with friends, or along the beach. Even though my muscles were too weak to stand, the therapists kept me working hard and step-by-step my motor function improved."

Declaring Victory

Committed to making a full recovery, Samir, his family and the rehabilitation team worked together to help him reach his goals.

"My dad and I made a bet. He said he'd buy me an iPod if I could walk out of the hospital by myself," says Samir. "I was determined to do it. Not for the iPod, but for myself and those who believed in me."

After five months of hospitalization and intensive rehabilitative care, Samir was ready to declare victory and make the most of his second chance at life.

"I remember the first time I took the elevator and walked outside, they couldn't wipe the smile off my face," Samir says. "Since the hospital requires that patients be discharged in a wheelchair, I guess I technically lost the bet. But, I had learned to walk, talk and smile again at Memorial. I'd won."

Inspired by his rehabilitative experience and the therapists at Memorial Regional Hospital South, Samir is now living with family in South Florida and attending college again with a new goal.

"I want to be a speech therapist," says Samir. "My Memorial rehabilitation team encouraged, uplifted and inspired me. I hope I can share my story and help others the way Memorial helped me. That would be my greatest reward."


 

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