Success Story: Jason Angstadt
On the Road and Into the Wild
It was June 11, 2010, and Jason Angstadt, a herdsman on a local farm, was working with a colleague to move a mother cow that had recently given birth. The cow, previously docile, unexpectedly charged Jason. It happened in an instant, and it would forever change his life.
Jason fell to the ground, his body bent in half from the impact. He had no feeling from his waist down, and he had to be rushed to the hospital via helicopter.
At the hospital, Jason learned that he had broken several vertebrae in his back. He underwent spinal fusion surgery, but the damage to his spinal cord was irreparable. Then, Jason’s doctors said the words that he feared most.
“They told me I would never walk again,” said Jason. “It was hard to hear, but I knew there was no point dwelling on my diagnosis. I wanted to get better, get out the hospital and get back to enjoying my life and living it to the fullest.
“I knew there was no sense in feeling sorry for myself.”
Once he was stabilized and fitted with a back brace to help him heal after surgery, Jason was transferred to Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital-Allentown. There, he spent two months receiving acute rehabilitation, including three hours of physical therapy and occupational therapy each day.
“At first I had a lot of pain, even with my brace,” recalls Jason. “But with 18 hours of rehabilitation a week, I noticed I was getting stronger fast.”
Jason had a simple goal. He wanted to do the things he used to do before he was in a wheelchair. His therapists and care team at Good Shepherd helped Jason get to where he wanted to be.
“I was determined to get my life back,” said Jason. “I love hunting, fishing, exercising and being outdoors. I knew I may have to do these things differently, but I was not willing to give them up.”
By the end of his inpatient rehabilitation at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital-Allentown, Jason had some sensation back in his upper legs. After examining his progress, his doctors upgraded Jason’s diagnosis to an incomplete spinal cord injury.
Jason attributes his success in inpatient rehabilitation to his hard work, motivation, and tireless work ethic, as well as the clinicians at Good Shepherd.
“My therapists supported my goals 100 percent and were there to push me every step of the way,” he says. “I know that their expertise and support contributed significantly to my success and recovery.”
Today, Jason is back at home, newly married and keeping himself busy finding ways to do the things he loves. Jason loves the outdoors and Good Shepherd's Wheelchair Clinic staff evaluated him and helped him obtain a manual wheelchair, an outdoor hunting and fishing wheelchair and an outdoor powered wheelchair.
Three times a week, Jason continues his therapy in Good Shepherd’s Outpatient Neurorehabilitation Program, where the clinicians are helping him continue his progress toward becoming as strong and as independent as possible.
He's also back on the road. He recently graduated from Good Shepherd’s Adaptive Driving Program, where certified assistive technology professionals helped him learn how to drive a vehicle using adaptive equipment and new technique. He passed his driver’s exam, and he is awaiting an adaptive vehicle of his own.
Jason also makes fitness a priority, working out three times a week at Optimal Fitness, Good Shepherd’s medical-model fitness center in Allentown.
Most importantly to Jason, he has found ways to get outdoors and do the things he loves.
“My friends and I went hunting this winter,” he said. “It was slightly more complicated getting me out there, but I’m still out there and that is what matters!”