Client Name: Gianfranco G.
Hometown: Saddle Brook, NJ
Injury/Diagnosis Date: 07/04/09
Start Date: 05/15/10
July 4, 2009, started like a normal day. Friends gathered at Gianfranco Gervasio’s house in Saddle Brook to swim, BBQ and hang out. Then Gianfranco dove into the pool and his life changed forever.
“I hit my head and I remember feeling like I was drowning, next thing I knew I woke up in the hospital,” he said. “Words really can’t explain how I was feeling, I was scared and devastated.”
The dive changed his life and he sustained a C5 spinal cord injury. A C5 injury is a high spinal cord injury often resulting in difficulty controlling the body and legs. Gianfranco was told he would never walk again and would lose control of his body. The doctors told him he would be limited in his abilities to move.
“The first year was frustrating, I wasn’t strong enough to do anything,” Gianfranco explained. “It took determination, but in that first year I was able to start to move around without help.”
A big accomplishment was using a manual chair. Gradually, he was learning to become more independent doing daily activities. Even the simple things, such as brushing his teeth without getting exhausted, made him proud.
“They might seem trivial to a lot of people, for me though it was a huge accomplishment. The simple things build up and makes you want to push yourself more,” Gianfranco remarked about the first accomplishments.
Gianfranco has only been coming to Push to Walk for a year, but he says it is making a tremendous impact on his life. In just a few months, Gianfranco said he already sees improvements in his strength and balance.
“I credit my success to the one-on-one training. The trainers give me hope for improvement and they’re teaching me about my body, I’m learning more here than I did anywhere else,” he said. “My favorite thing about Push to Walk is I’m always out of the chair. I look forward to having some freedom.”
He also feels Push to Walk will help him succeed in his future goals.
‘The strength I’m gaining here will help me be able to move more freely in my wheelchair. This will help me go back to school and get around campus.” Gianfranco said. “Since I’m hoping to be able to drive again soon, I’ll be able to go out without having to worry how I will get in and out of my car. In just three months, I’m better able to push my chair, transfer out of bed and use a standing frame so I have high hopes for the future.”
Gianfranco sees life after the injury as a new opportunity. He plans to pursue an Associates Degree at Bergen Community College and eventually move to a four year school. Gianfranco is going out with friends every chance he can and getting back to activities he did before the injury. He also has recently taken a drivers evaluation test and plans to take up hand cycling.
“Push to Walk has been one of the best things to happen to me since the accident. I know I’m going to become stronger, more independent. I’m happy that when I come here I get to meet new people that are in my situation. It’s good to be able to meet new people that I can relate to,” Gianfranco said.
Even though the pool changed his life, Gianfranco cannot wait to get back in. Next summer, he looks forward to using his sisters’ new in-ground pool to continue to stay fit.