Don's story

RIM changed patient's life in many ways

Don West said he knew something was wrong long before being diagnosed.  For years, he had back pain and leg weakness which progressed to where he would have to use a walker.  In 2005, while in therapy to repair a partially torn ligament in his right knee, he started dragging his left leg.  He eventually ended up in a wheelchair, not able to move either leg.  Doctors diagnosed him with transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder that leads to paralysis. 

“My doctors at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital told me there was no cure, but if anyone could get me moving, it was DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan,” said Don.

During his month long inpatient stay, therapists worked to strengthen his legs and taught him how to function in a wheelchair. After he was discharged, he continued to rehab during outpatient therapy, but not as quickly as anticipated.  Doctors discovered three herniated discs pressing on his spinal cord. 

“It meant surgery and rehabilitation, but I knew right where I wanted therapy, and that was the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.”

After his surgery, he spent another month inpatient.  Don left only able to move his right toe and insurance wouldn’t pay for outpatient therapy.

“I thought… okay, I know what the therapists taught me.  So five days a week, I worked out at RIM's Brasza Outpatient Center.  Two years after my surgery, I walked well enough to just use a cane.

For Don, RIM was a life changer in the therapies he received, exercises he remembered to do on his own and by participating in the adapted sports program..  

“They got me walking and participating in competitive sports again.  I am now a RIM peer mentor, I’m able to DJ fulltime, and, I met my fiancée at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.  She was my nurse.  Has RIM changed my life?  You bet!“