In the early morning hours of April 24th, 2013, Rodney hopped in his truck and headed to his job of 20 years as a shop foreman with Union Sheet Metal Workers. Low temperatures the night before, combined with strong winds and precipitation, created the perfect conditions for black ice. Rodney’s truck slid across the black ice, crashed into the median and caught fire. He was trapped inside his vehicle until help arrived.
At the hospital it was determined that over 60% of Rodney’s body was severely burned. Due to the nature of his injury, Rodney’s doctors had no choice but to amputate both of his legs above the knee. After spending 11 months at the University of Kansas Hospital recovering from his burns, Rodney was referred to Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City (RIKC).
Here at RIKC Rodney now works with Physical Therapy to improve his strength, balance, and endurance. Rodney has come a long way since he started therapy in January 2015. “Once Rodney made that initial step over his mental hurdle of trusting himself, we really started to see the little accomplishments turn into big accomplishments”, said Brandon Crichton, PTA.
Rodney is currently on his fourth height adjustment to his prosthetic training legs called “shorties” and anticipates two more before he is back to his original height of 5’ 10”. Early in Rodney’s therapy he had to re-learn how to sit on a surface without a back support to regain his balance without legs to stabilize him. He also had to adjust to his new daily routine of taking his prosthetics on and off and knowing when an adjustment was needed by his Prosthetist. With each height adjustment Rodney gets closer to his goals but also experiences new muscle pain and fatigue. “During each therapy session Rodney must put out 300% more effort to walk, stand, or balance now than he did prior to his accident,” said Dr. Brad Steinle, RIKC Adult Programs Medical Director.
During therapy Rodney works on weight-shifting to bring his legs forward with each step and to help balance himself at a standing position. His therapy includes walking laps around the RIKC first floor and walking in 30 second push and rest intervals on the treadmill. “Something big is about to happen, I can feel it,” said Rodney about his therapy progress.
When Rodney is not in therapy he stays as active as possible. He enjoys the outdoors from hunting to fishing and has become active in MO Conservation Department programs. He has also received support along his journey to regain independence from the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 2.
Rodney attributes much of his success to the support of his wife, trust in his therapists, and hard work.