Alfredo's Story

Hand Therapy

RIM helps Detroit EMT return to work after potential career-ending injury

It was October 21, 2015 and Detroit EMT, Alfredo Rojas, and his partner were answering a call for aAlfredo2017-01 woman with an injured foot. When they arrived, things got out of control.

“Her boyfriend was really combative and upset. As we were working with her, he pulled out a box cutter and started swinging. He cut me underneath my eye and sliced through my palm. He got my partner across the face.”

Alfredo managed to drive himself and his partner to DMC's Detroit Receiving Hospital.  The knife had cut muscles, nerves and nicked tendons in his hand. He had surgery the next morning to realign the nerves and repair the muscle and tendons. 

“After surgery, my palm was swollen and numb, I couldn’t touch my thumb to my pinky finger, I couldn’t pick anything up and had no strength in my hand. I was worried about what this meant for my career.”

Alfredo started outpatient therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan's Sterling Heights Center. Three days a week, therapists worked to help heal his wounds and he did occupational therapy to learn how to grip, and pick things up.

“They had some really unique therapies. I would put my hand in this machine with ground up corn husks. They would blow around and massage it. It really helped get things moving again.”

After four months of OT, Alfredo went to RIM’s work hardening program. Therapists had him carry stretchers, lift weights, things he’d do on the job. He says he could tell a difference immediately.

“Nine months after my injury, I went back to work. I still feel a little pain and numbness, but I can deal with it.  If it weren’t for RIM I probably wouldn’t be using my hand. They pushed me and made the future possible.”