Jose's Story

Jose Fernandez at rehabilitation

Spinal cord rehabilitation 

Born in Colorado but now residing in Marble Falls, 33-year-old Jose Fernandez led an active lifestyle. He enjoyed spending time with loved ones and had a passion for sports. However, his life took an unexpected turn when he experienced symptoms of a surprising condition.

Out of nowhere, he had a sudden lack of movement in his legs and was unable to stand or walk. Seeking medical attention, Jose was initially turned away from a local emergency center and the emergency room. Faced with mounting mobility challenges, he returned to the ER the following day and underwent an MRI, where doctors found the root cause of his condition.

The diagnosis revealed a bulging disc in Jose's back, exerting pressure on the nerves, a condition known as cauda equina. Compressed cauda equina nerves can cause pain, weakness, incontinence and other symptoms.

"[The] challenges I faced included weakness and lack of movement in my legs... I was unable to stand and walk," Jose recalled. He required specialized rehabilitative care to regain his lost strength and independence.

Once Jose stabilized, he chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) - Lakeway to start his path to recovery. BSWIR - Lakeway was close to home and he had heard positive feedback about the facility.

Upon admission, his primary goals were simple but significant: to walk again and resume a normal life. Under the expert care of the physician-led care team, Jose made remarkable progress. Physical therapy exercises aimed to strengthen his body and increase his endurance and activity tolerance. He pushed hard under his physical therapist's guidance, gradually regaining the feeling in his legs. Here, he also learned how to get up from a lower surface. As his balance and strength rebuilt, he worked towards walking with the aid of a walker.

All of these skills were crucial when he moved to occupational therapy. Occupational therapy focused on refining his fine motor skills and completing critical daily skills for self-care, such as using the toilet on his own or standing for long periods to shower.

The turning point in Jose's recovery arrived when he took his first seemingly impossible steps. The realization of his inner strength became an "ah-ha" moment. He knew then that with hard work and perseverance, anything was possible.

Jose eagerly looked to continue his therapy at the Day Neuro Program, an intense outpatient therapy program focused on those who have had a stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury or other neurological disorder.

Reflecting on his overall experience at BSWIR – Lakeway, he recalled that he had a great experience where everyone made him feel at home.

Jose leaves this advice for those going through a similar situation: "I would tell them to believe in themselves, no matter how hard it may seem. With hard work, it can be done. Don't give up."