Joe's Story

Nov 10, 2022

“RIM was phenomenal and so inclusive of our family during Joe’s recovery.” – Joe Riehl’s Mother

It was a fun day of snowmobiling in mid-Michigan.  Joe Riehl was heading home when he lost traction and control of his snowmobile.  He slammed into a tree, hitting the handlebars and crushing his chest.  

“Fortunately, an ambulance was there almost immediately.  Joe’s heart was torn, he was losing massive amounts of blood, causing him to have strokes.  Transported to the hospital, doctors did surgery within the hour to repair his heart.  It was a miracle. Many wouldn’t have survived,” says his mother, Janet.   
Joe spent ten days in the ICU. Once stable, an ambulance transported him to the DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM)’s inpatient Neuroscience Unit.

“I don’t remember much. The strokes caused cognitive issues. I couldn’t walk or barely move.  Talking was tough because a ventilator had scarred my vocal cords,” says Joe.  
For the next five weeks, Joe did physical, occupational and speech therapy daily.

“They were phenomenal and so inclusive of our family in his recovery.  In fact, we were called ‘Team Joe,’ and that included his therapists.  When they left for a weekend, we were sad. They are such caring people,” says Janet.

When he went home, he could move, walk and talk.  Joe has continued with outpatient therapy at RIM Sterling Heights Center and appreciates how personalized the therapy is, and how it is often centered around helping him accomplish daily things in his life, like picking up his one-year-old and caring for their new puppy.  Joe’s immediate goal is to pass his driver’s test in time to take his wife to the hospital to deliver their second baby girl.  

Janet says the whole journey has been incredible and that God put Joe in the right hands.  She watched her son blossom from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.  His personality is back, and his competitive, goal-oriented drive. She says, he’s the son she knew, and they’re working hard with RIM to get his life back to what it was before the accident.