Terry's Stroy

Man dives into rehab to help him walk again

As site manager at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Terry Begnoche gets to incorporate one of his passions into his work, scuba diving on shipwrecks.

In September, 2014, Terry was on a 200+ foot dive in Lake Superior, videotaping an 1899 shipwreck, the Nelson. When it was time to surface, he realized he had equipment problems.  He ascended quickly and not as planned.

“I knew I was in trouble. A normal ascent from this depth would have taken nearly an hour with decompression stops, but I surfaced in 2 ½ minutes.  I swam to the dive boat, was able to resubmerge to partially decompress and then got helped onto the boat where the crew gave me oxygen, alerted the Coast Guard and started the two hour trip to shore.”

Terry was airlifted to Marquette Hospital for emergency treatment. With guidance from experts at the Diver Alert Network (DAN), he was then flown to Minneapolis’ Hennepin County Medical Center, which was better prepared for deep dive accidents. He decompressed in a hyperbaric chamber for 53 hours. When he came out, he could move his hands and arms but not his legs. Doctors suggested a rehab facility that specialized in spinal cord injuries.

That facility was near his home. Terry returned to Detroit and was met at the airport by an ambulance arranged for by DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM). During his four month inpatient hospital stay, he received therapy to help him stand and someday walk again. He is continuing his recovery with outpatient therapy at RIM's Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery.

“When I got to RIM, I could tell they were spinal rehab experts. They had a great plan and we were all excited by how quickly I progressed. My family, friends, employer and the continuum of care at RIM have all been amazing.”

Terry hopes to soon walk unassisted, swim, dive and return to work at the museum.