Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic Therapy

“The goal is to be ready for planting.” Those were the words 37-year-old Todd Schmieding recited to his Seward Memorial physical therapy team many times. Spring is go-time for Todd, who farms near Staplehurst, Neb. But a farm accident the fall of 2015 left him questioning when returning to his tractor would be possible.

During harvest in October, the wheel on Todd’s ATV got caught causing the motorized vehicle to flip, throwing him off. “I looked down at my legs and knew I was severely injured,” stated Todd.  

He was able to locate his cell phone and call the local rescue squad that brought him to the emergency room at Memorial Health Care Systems. Todd was life-flighted to Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln where he learned he had a separated shoulder, fractured ribs and broken his tibia and fibula in both legs.

After surgery on his legs, Todd returned home with non-weight-bearing restrictions, immobilized right arm and using a single arm drive manual wheelchair just three weeks after his accident. The next several months were spent recovering from his injuries and working towards strengthening his legs to reclaim mobility.

Recovery proved to be a lesson in patience. Todd’s journey was extensive as the bones in his legs needed time to heal. Todd, his orthopedic surgeon, and Seward Memorial physical therapy team established a plan to get him back to his family and occupation. Initial therapy sessions centered on rebuilding strength in Todd’s trunk as it was essential to the overall support of his tall stature.

His first steps post-accident were in water during aquatic therapy. “With Todd’s initial weight-bearing restrictions of only 25 percent of his body weight, aquatic therapy allowed him to begin walking and developing muscle strength in his legs and core with less stress sooner than he could have otherwise,” stated Barb Leymaster, physical therapist.

Todd’s faith, stoic nature and determined work ethic aided in his weekly therapy sessions, and built his confidence to transition to land walking. The Schmieding family found solace in family involvement and community support during Todd’s recovery. “We learned the power of community support after the accident. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and we’re very grateful,” stated Natalie, Todd’s wife.

As Todd’s strength improved, he was able to transition to walking on land and work towards restoring his natural gait.

Todd was dismissed from therapy entirely independent in April with a renewed spirit and just in time for planting season.  “Todd had few complications or set-backs during his recovery, and this helped him progress so quickly,” stated Barb.

Today, Todd cherishes family time with his daughter, Nora, and wife. He finished planting his acres just in time to celebrate Nora’s birthday in May. The Schmieding family had many reasons to celebrate.