When a fall results in paraplegia
It was something that could happen to anyone. On May 2, 2015, Paul Pulliam, a 48-year-old restaurant manager and resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee, fell and hit his chin on a coffee table in the den of his home. When he fell, he heard a loud pop. Instead of pulling himself up and dusting himself off, he remained limp in the floor unable to move any of his limbs. Paul’s simple fall had resulted in a spinal cord injury in the cervical region and paraplegia.
Paul, who described himself as a “bowl full of JELL-O®” upon entering HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Chattanooga for physical and occupational inpatient rehabilitation, found inspiration from his father and his therapy team who kept pushing him to complete tasks and prove to everyone that he would regain his independence.
“I told the CEO [Scott Rowe] that I was going to walk out of there,” said Pulliam.
His therapy included leg flexes, mat exercises, walking along the parallel bars and other strengthening and balance exercises.
“Taking that first step [by myself] was emotional,” said Pulliam.
After 31 days, Paul walked out of HealthSouth Chattanooga using only a walker. He is now able to feed himself and dress himself, drive and he continues to reach new goals every day.
“It’s a learning process,” said Pulliam.