Meet Chico Garcia, our Louisiana boy! He first started our program in 2017 and brings a whole lot of fun to the NextStep Orlando team and environment. We asked him a few questions about life before, during and after his accident
1. Take us through an average day of your life before your injury? What were your interests?
An average day would start at an Apple retail store where I was a full time creative. I would have six to eight one hour training sessions with one to one customers with any Apple product or Software. After Apple I would head over to LSU to run cheerleading practice as the head coach teaching traditional material, stunts, tumbling, baskets and pyramids. Everything was in preparation for Saturday’s (game day) or National competition in Disney World ESPN World Wide Sports in January.
My interests were anything physical like jujitsu, jogging, circuit training and Olympic lifts. On the weekends during season I would take out my boat and spend time on the river.
2. When and how did your injury happen? What was the first thing the Doctors told you?
My injury happened in August 2011 on the Diversion Canal when the driver of the boat got distracted and crashed their boat into a dock. I was a passenger.
My Doctors at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge never told me anything about the injury, I found out I was paralyzed three weeks into ICU when a Shepherd Center recruiter came to discuss the medical transfer details. Up to this point I believed I had no movement simply because my vertebrae was broke, but once that healed I would be able to move again.
After my arrival at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, I had a meeting with the team (Doctor, PT, OT, Psychiatrist, Counselor and Speech Therapist), when I was told about my injury. I was told I would remain on a ventilation machine for the rest of my life, I would never walk again, I would never be able to have children and I would need 24hr care for the rest of my life.
3. How did you find NextStep Orlando? What was your first impression?
I found NextStep Orlando on Intsagram several years after my injury and I was amazed with how different the therapy was compared to anything I had done in the past.
4. What makes you keep coming to NextStep Orlando and what impact has it had on your life?
The trainers are the main reason why I continue to come back and advise others to do the same. They actually love their job. It’s not just a paycheck, they want their clients to achieve goals and gain more independence. NextStep Orlando is a positive family like community, which allows new friendships to be created with trainers and other clients. This facility has impacted my life in such a huge way, I’ve decided to move from Louisiana to Florida and now I have friends with similar injuries who understand this life.
5. What are your goals?
My realistic goal is to be active and flexible. My dream is to gain some type of arm movement (biceps or triceps) to gain some type of independence.
6. What advice would you give to someone who hasn't started an activity-based program yet?
My advice would be that this is the best type of therapy available today, which is totally different from the generic therapy done at other facilities.
7. Do you have something that inspires you and pushes you harder?
Possibly having an inkling of independence one day motivates me to wake up.
Chico works incredibly hard 5 days a week for 3 hours when he is attending our program! He has gained a huge amount of trunk stability and strength on trunk extension. We focus on flexibility, treadmill training, guided exercise training and neuromuscular electrical stimulation! He loved to be pushed hard, and the trainers make sure he gets a full body workout! Keep pushing hard Chico; we can't wait to have you here full time.