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Walter Wynne

Walking After Breaking His Neck and Back

The day was a typical one in August when a freak accident would forever change Walter's life.

The 56-year-old was taking his son's dog for a walk when the pup got tangled in his legs as they went down his front steps. Walter fell, hitting his forehead on a concrete slab with such force that it snapped back, breaking his neck and spine.

He needed immediate surgery to fuse his neck – back surgery to implant rods and screws would come later – and spent 10 days in the Intensive Care Unit. He learned later that the surgeon who performed the procedure said Walter would never walk again. Indeed, his arms and legs were paralyzed. But he could move his fingers and toes, and knowing that, Walter was determined to walk again.

"I was scared, angry, depressed – so many things go through your mind," Walter, 56, said. "But I was determined to get up and walk. It was hard – I could barely move but I was going to do it."

His journey to get back on his feet was tortuous. He transferred to an in-patient rehabilitation facility and, though he worked tirelessly to regain movement, he still lost 40 lbs. from muscle atrophy. He had to learn to walk again, hooked up to a harness on a treadmill. When he could finally navigate with a walker, Walter went home and received outpatient physical therapy. Within a few months, he was able to return to his job in commercial insurance.

By then, Walter wanted to continue to regain strength and looked for a facility that offered a combination of physical therapy and a gym workout. He heard about HNH Fitness, Holy Name's medically-based fitness center in Oradell, which offers personalized training tailored to overcome challenges experienced after an illness or injury. Now Walter works out twice a week with Dayan Hadavi, an expert trainer at HNH Fitness.

"At HNH Fitness, Dayan listens to me and adjusts my workout to give me the best results for my needs," Walter said.

Two years after his fall, Walter is still trying to assimilate to his physical challenges. Certain muscles are weak – he can't swing a golf club or ski. Once able to swim in the ocean, he can no longer stay afloat in the calmest of pools. He can't run and his hands don't work as well as they did. But he can walk.

Working with Dayan, Walter continues to focus on improving his gait, balance and strength. When he feels like he might have plateaued, Dayan will point out how much he has progressed.

"I'm determined to have the best quality of life I can and HNH Fitness is helping me get there."