” Physical Therapy Assistant Lisa Davis (left) and Exercise Physiologist Brad Zieber (right) help Kody Kennard work on strengthening his muscles to once again walk independently following a motorcycle accident last September, which left him paralyzed.
Kody Kennard was just like any other 21-year-old free-spirited young man, enjoying life, friends and his freedom. On September 9, 2010 Kennard was on his way to work at the power plant when a drunk driver backed out of a driveway and hit him. He was driving almost 60 miles per hour on his motorcycle.The accident broke Kennard’s spinal cord, right arm, right collarbone and every rib on the right side of his body. A broken rib on his left side even punctured his lung.
“I was in a coma for eight days and when I woke up, the doctor said I would never walk again,” Kennard said. “It was devastating, but I told them they were wrong.”
After three months in the hospital, Kennard left in a wheelchair—as well as with a plate in his right arm, another in the right side of his collarbone, plus two rods and 10 bolts in his back. But through months of physical therapy at the SOMC Life Center, the support of loved ones, and sheer determination, he is now able to walk for short distances with the help of leg braces and a walker.
“When I got home I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t take showers by myself or get into my wheelchair. I had to have assistance with everything,” he said. “But I was stubborn and determined to not just sit at home—I wanted to walk again.”
Kennard began training with Brad Zieber, exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer at the Portsmouth LIFE Center, who added strength workouts little by little in an effort to rebuild Kennard’s muscles and re-teach him how to move.
“I told him we had to treat these weaknesses like those of a baby, learning everything from scratch,” Zieber said. “When Kody first came in he couldn’t even sit on a bench by himself; we had to break everything down into very simple, functional movements. Now, amazingly, we’re working on walking.”
Physical therapist, Lisa Davis also works with Kody on a regular basis. She said, “He has been a remarkable person to work with. He is so determined and eager to improve. I do what I do for a reason and Kody is one of them. I get to see his recovery and know that I helped him.”
Kennard said he owes much of his success to the support of people like Zieber, Davis and his mother and girlfriend.
“After I got my leg braces, I started coming to the LIFE Center three days a week. I’m walking 500 feet at a time now with a walker—more than they told me I’d ever do,” Kennard said. “I’ve really had a lot of people helping, pushing me. That’s played a big part.”
“The first day he came in I asked, ‘What do you want out of this?’” Zieber said. “He said his goals were to get stronger, be independent, walk and drive again. And as hard as he’s working and progressing, I don’t see that as out of range. What he’s accomplished is beyond what anyone would expect.”
By this time next year, Kennard hopes he won’t need the wheelchair at all.
“The first thing everybody thinks is that their life’s over. And the first thing I’d tell them is that it’s not,” Kennard said. “It’s different, but it’s not over. Anything in life worth having is never going to be easy or free. If you fail 100 times and succeed once, that once is worth that 100 tries—and 100 more.