Rehabilitation for Body, Mind Key to Accident Recovery

The decision to drink and drive was not a smart way to start 2017 for Taylorville teenager Carter Sinkhorn.

Early New Year’s morning, Carter, then 17, crashed his truck into a tree, less than a mile from home.

Thanks to the efforts of the firemen and paramedics at the scene and the Taylorville Memorial Hospital Emergency Department (ED), Carter survived the horrific wreck, but he faced months and months of rehabilitation and physical therapy.

Enter Kevin Kietzman, MPT, with TMH Rehabilitation Services, who began work with the teenager in late January. He describes his role as both cheerleader and realist as he continues to guide Carter toward improvement.

Physical and Mental Healing Close to Home

“Getting Carter to understand it would be a long process was the first challenge,” Kietzman said. “It is more of a marathon than a sprint. Also, consistency. Helping him understand that he needs to keep with the exercises to see improvement. I remind him–remember where you were at.”

Carter credits his physical therapy for being one of the main things that helped his recovery, especially when he grappled with depression following his return home.

“Coming here and talking with Kevin really helped,” Carter said. “It just feels like home. People know me by name. He helped me to walk better. At first, I was walking with no ligaments in my right knee. I tore everything but the ACL.”

Carter’s mom, Lisa Sinkhorn, remembers how tough those days were at the beginning of the rehabilitation process.

“Carter was depressed, but Kevin kept persevering and pushing him, telling him he could get through this,” she said. “He would be so upset when I dropped him off for appointments. But when it was over, he was a different person.”

Consistency Pays Off

In May, Carter was able to take his girlfriend, Jade, to the junior prom–on crutches. Today, he walks with a limp but continues to improve with every physical therapy session.

“TMH Rehabilitation Services brought Carter from wheelchair to crutches, then to a cane, then knee brace, and today he is walking with no brace and a slight limp,” Lisa posted on her Facebook page in late July. “What an awesome group of people! The surgeons have been awesome, but without TMH physical therapy, Carter wouldn’t be where he is today.”

Now 18, Carter is in his senior year at South Fork High School. He still sees Kevin for physical therapy twice a week and faces additional surgery on his knee. He is driving a different truck, but he does not drink and drive.

In some ways, it has been easier for him to move forward than his family, sister Mallory Sassatelli, brother Spencer, and parents, Jimmy and Lisa.

“I finally said ‘Mom, you need to turn the page. I have, and I need you, too. I’m OK.’ Rehab was the thing that helped me the most,” he added.