FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Every year, half of all Americans over the age of 18 will develop an injury that may require some form of physical therapy to help them recover, and advancements in physical therapy are helping more return to the lives they once enjoyed before their injury.
Among them is 38-year-old Andres Perez-Molina, who has always been the image of strength and good health.
Nothing could have prepared him for what happened on Aug. 26, 2020.
“That morning I went out for a good 30-mile bike ride in my neighborhood in Parkland and there was more emotional stress going through the pandemic and COVID, I wasn’t realizing and plus dehydration, and I fainted in my backyard patio and I hit my right temple, freak of an accident, on a flower pot,” Perez-Molina said.
After falling unconscious, he woke to find himself paralyzed from the waist down
“When the shock came up of me not being able to move, then yes, I was terrified and in denial,” he said.
“That’s a very terrible injury, a catastrophic event, a life-changing event for him,” said Dr. Ariel Inocentes, Director of the rehabilitation facility at Broward Health North.
Perez-Molina wasn’t about to give up.
He dedicated himself to his recovery which Inocentes said was enhanced by improvements over the past decade for dealing with a multitude of life-altering injuries.
“We have neurodevelopmental techniques to help them get stronger, to stimulate the muscles to work without the patient even knowing they’re being stimulated to work on the muscles,” Inocentes said.
The irony of his dramatic improvement was not lost on Perez-Molina when, as a professional actor, he was recently asked to be a stand-in for Superman actor Henry Cavill.
“It was so surreal that it happened through this journey,” Perez-Molina said.
He now see’s his personal experience as a greater purpose to help others.
“I’ve always been an optimistic guy, but now to be able to take that to another level and share it with strangers all over the world, it’s been a blessing,” Perez-Molina said.
Sept. 21-27 marks National Rehabilitation Awareness week.
Over the next decade, the need for physical therapists is expected to grow by 22%, in part due to an aging population.