When Will Quarles walks into a room, his presence demands attention. Everyone takes notice, given his impressive height of six feet seven inches. However, you quickly recognize his reserved demeanor is one of calm and determination.
Will has made significant improvements, both physically and mentally, in the relatively short time that he has been treating at Rainbow. However, at the beginning of his rehabilitation, Will wasn’t always the motivated and confident man that he is now. This is Will’s success story.
On January 19, 2017, Will was involved in a motor vehicle accident in which his legs were trapped inside the crushed vehicle. He sustained severe fractures to both lower extremities as well as burns to 43 percent of his body.
He was rushed to Detroit Receiving Hospital where the majority of his skin that was still intact was used as grafts. He remained trached and in a coma until the end of March. At that time, Will was transferred to a rehabilitation facility where he began therapies daily for one month to regain enough strength to be able to transfer himself from his bed to his wheelchair and sit up for prolonged periods of time.
Will said of this time, “It felt good to be off machines, but my quality of life was still a guessing situation.”
On May 9, Will was admitted into Rainbow’s rehabilitation program. This was a very difficult transition for Will.
“I didn’t want to move to Rainbow. I never had to live like that before—in a house full of strangers, not being able to do anything myself. I didn’t care about meeting people, and I didn’t want to leave my room,” Will shared.
Initially, he was unable to leave the facility because both of his legs were fixed in full extension—Will was unable to fit into a specialized lift van! Over the next few weeks, the main goal became: Bend his knees through an intense stretching program.
“My physical and occupational therapists came out to the house every day to see me,” he said.
Rainbow modified the lift van to meet his needs which allowed Will to travel to the therapy center for his physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy, speech-language pathology, counseling, and for meetings with the dietitian.
With getting out of the house more and a beneficial surgery in the near future, Will knew that he should be looking on the positive side, but something just wasn’t right. Not only was he having severe pain throughout his body with every movement, but just the thought of movement and pain would set him into a downward spiral of not getting out of bed, not interacting, not attending therapies, and just not moving.
Then the diagnosis came: an infection.
“I was mad that it pushed everything back, and I couldn’t get the surgery,” Will stated.
But what was seen as a setback turned into a blessing in disguise. Once Will was put on the proper antibiotics, he was no longer the fearful and apathetic man he had become.
“I began feeling better and working harder,” said Will.
He started attending therapy every day. He was motivated to push himself and to progress quickly. It wasn’t long until Will began standing and then walking, first with a walker, then with crutches, and now with a cane. He was able to have the surgery to bend his knees and can now transport into a standard vehicle, which means he is able to go out with friends and is quickly progressing to complete independence with all mobility. Will is now looking forward to moving home with his sister in the near future.
“My life was put on pause. I feel good, and I want to continue with my original life,” he said.
“I’ve got a real team here at Rainbow, with coaches and cheerleaders. My physical therapist woke me up every morning and got me to do stuff I didn’t want to do. She showed me ways to make life worth living by taking me from living on four wheels to living on two feet.”
Will continued, “My occupational therapist helped me get my strength back in my upper body and taught me the steps for basic everyday living skills. My nurse worked tirelessly to help me heal by changing my dressings and training staff how to best care for me.
“The house staff was my major support. My Rehabilitation Assistant Renisha gave me examples of situations that were similar to mine with positive outcomes and gave me pointers of things to do outside the doors of therapy. She gave me advice and extra support through my time of depression,” he said.
Will was admitted to Rainbow with an emotional and painful recovery ahead of him. Soon he will walk out with a positive experience and a new outlook on life:
“Your body can do whatever your mind tells it to do,” Will said with a smile.