Jason Johnson’s Story

Jason Johnson has come a long way since a serious motorcycle crash left him paralyzed from the waist down. Here he shares how Drake Center helped him rehabilitate and get his life back on track.

I wrecked my motorcycle on my way to work in 2001. My bike had landed on top of me, breaking my back in two places, and if the paramedics hadn’t gotten to me so fast I probably would have died from my injuries. I’d lacerated my kidneys and liver, and I had too many rib fractures to count. The nerve damage to my arms was so severe I couldn’t even use them. Worst of all, I was permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

After surgery and a week in intensive care, I transferred to Drake Center, where doctors, nurses and therapists got to work with aggressive treatments. Most of my therapy focused on getting my arms to work and learning how to do everything again, including getting dressed and feeding myself. I spent more than two months as an inpatient at Drake. As my medical condition improved, they added in more therapy helping me to regain skills and my independence. After I was discharged, I continued regular outpatient therapy.

My recovery was tough physically, but it was even more difficult emotionally. At the time of the crash, I was only 21. I’d been very active in martial arts and had just been accepted by the Cincinnati Police Academy. After the crash, I felt like I’d lost everything, and there were times I felt really depressed. But everybody, from my doctors to my therapists to maintenance staff, was so supportive. They listened when I wanted to talk, and reassured me when I needed hope. I remember one time when a janitor put down his mop to give me a hand. That’s the way it is at Drake — everyone goes above and beyond.

All along, people at Drake kept telling me that things would work out, and they were right. I just graduated from the University of Cincinnati, and I’m planning a career in law enforcement. I’m also teaching martial arts and competing in wheelchair races. Without the expertise and support of people at Drake Center, I honestly don’t know where I’d be.

 

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