May 8, 2014 is a date that Joshua Strange would like to forget. The 39 year old Pierce Transit bus mechanic was working the graveyard shift. He was walking out of the shop when he was struck by a co-worker pulling a bus forward. Joshua hit the front windshield and then was run over. He sustained a left shoulder rotator cuff tear, nerve damage to his left leg and a compound fracture to his right tibia.
“My right leg felt like it exploded, “Joshua remarked. Paramedics rushed Joshua to Tacoma General where he spent the next 22 days recovering from his crush injuries. “For the first three weeks, I didn’t know whether or not the doctors were going to be able to save my right leg.” “Dr. Hossein Pakzad Sedigh, my orthopedic surgeon was one of the doctors that wanted to save the leg despite all the vascular and muscle damage I sustained.”
Joshua spent the next 70 days in a Tacoma skilled nursing facility where he had to relearn how to walk and had daily wound care attention. He was eventually discharged home where his wife and mother, visiting from California, helped him with day today activities.
He started physical therapy at PINN Tacoma in September of 2014. Joshua came in using a walker and wearing a CAM Boot. He had physical therapy three times a week and was a client of Kristen Harvey and Maria Bokor, both physical therapists.
Although he was making slow and steady progress with Kristen and Maria, Joshua had a setback in June of 2015. He developed a bone infection that caused him to be on IV Antibiotics for 5 months. He had to get his hardware removed. “I remember Joshua as a client that was never going to give up. He was going to make it and the best part was that he was encouraging to other clients as well,” recalls Kristen his therapist.
Determined not to give up, Joshua restarted physical therapy at PINN on April 26, 2016. He successfully completed physical therapy and was transitioned to work conditioning and work hardening. He was discharged at the end of May to transitional light duty at his job of injury. “It’s great. I didn’t think I would ever get back. It’s great to have my leg back. There were many nights I cried on my wife’s shoulder.”
Joshua reports that the staff and clinicians at PINN kept him motivated and encouraged him to keep going even in his darkest days. He claims that the stairs were his biggest challenge.
Now that he is back at work he reports that his co-workers “were surprised to see me and were amazed that I had no limp and I didn’t require a cane. They remember me when I had hoses and drains sticking out of me”.
After 12 surgeries and extensive physical and occupational therapy, Joshua is set to return to work full duty on August 20 of this year. Light duty has been challenging. He reports being tired and some days his legs are swollen from all the standing that is required. “I can carry 55 pounds and I can deadlift 100 pounds.” Joshua reports he survived all his therapies and like the reward at the time of discharge. “PINN was great. I got cake, ice cream and a BBQ lunch. I was treated like family here, I can’t say enough about all the therapists that helped me.”
Joshua’s advice to other injured workers is simple. “Don’t give up, stay positive. Believe in yourself. I don’t think I could have made it without a positive attitude. I have two boys and a wife, they need me.”