After his motorcycle crossed the center line and collided head-on with an oncoming vehicle, Lance lost his left arm at the scene and had a crushed left leg — among other injuries — that needed to be amputated. Conscious, he was flown by helicopter to a local Pittsburgh hospital where he woke up a week after his surgeries with no recollection of the accident.
“The hospital staff suggested that I be transferred to an assisted living facility, but a family friend who is a nurse at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute said inpatient therapy was what I needed,” Lance says.
Lance and his wife Mary requested a transfer to the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Mercy. Before his prosthetics were ready, Lance spent a week in therapy regaining strength and relearning activities of daily living.
“I had lost weight and was weak, so I was learning how to get in and out of the wheelchair, how to get dressed, but on the first day, when my occupational therapist helped with my first shower in weeks, that was the best thing for me,” Lance laughs.
After regaining strength during his first week in therapy, Lance went home for three months while waiting for his prosthetics to be finished.
“My prosthetic leg was completed before my arm, so I started walking around a little at home, and I probably picked up some bad habits that I had to break in therapy,” Lance says.
Once both prosthetics were ready, Lance returned to UPMC Mercy for another week of inpatient therapy to help him learn how to use his new arm and leg to do the things he did before his accident.
“The rehab team was accommodating and very professional, and my therapy was personalized to me,” Lance says. “My occupational therapist asked what I wanted to be able to do when I got home. When I said I wanted to be able to use a weed whacker and chainsaw for yardwork, she put a broomstick on a strap and set up cones in the hallway so I could practice. Every time I weed whack at home now, I think of that.”
Lance returned home in November 2014 and continued therapy on an outpatient basis at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services' UPMC Mercy South Side location. Lance is now fully mobile and doing many of the other things he did prior to his accident.
“Last month, he was outside laying bags of mulch. This winter, he was using the snow blower, so I sent a video to his rehab team,” Mary says. “When you go through an experience like this —when your husband loses an arm and a leg — you don’t know what to do. Our friend served as a great guide, and everyone at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute was so kind and comforting from the moment Lance got there.”
“We would absolutely recommend the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute to anyone,” Lance agrees.