Tucson man has traveled the road Boston amputation patients will - Tucson News Now

Tucson man has traveled the road Boston amputation patients will travel

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(Source: USMC) (Source: USMC)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

"I'm a fighter," says Brett Hawkins as he is put through his paces in outpatient rehabilitation at Carondelet St. Joseph's Medical Center.

Hawkins life changed forever when his left leg had to be amputated below the knee after a motorcycle accident a little more than a year ago.

He now wears a prosthetic leg.

He knows something of what the bombing victims in Boston who lost limbs are experiencing.

"Mentally, it's going to be very tough. Excruciating. And physical is going to be just as tough," Hawkins says.

Dr. Annie Diedrich is the Carondelet St. Joseph's Hospital Outpatient Orthopedic Coordinator. 

She specializes in amputee rehabilitation.

Diedrich says patients in Boston will begin rehab as soon as possible to keep their muscles from tightening and making it more difficult to walk later.

"You'll be fitted right away, as soon as your skin integrity is there, with some sort of a prosthetic," Diedrich says. "You want to be strengthening the knee muscles--if that's intact--strengthening the hip muscles and making sure that they're maintaining balance and range of motion."

But the physical recovery is only part of it.

Attitude and outlook are very important to recovery.

Support from loved ones becomes crucial.

Hawkins has his family and his friends.

"It was helpful to me psychologically and mentally to speak to people,"

For Hawkins there's more.

"Just perseverance and a lot of faith in the Lord. I've talked to Him many a time."

Diedrich will tell you her patients with the best attitude and outlook go the furthest.

"The people who are able to come to that point in themselves where they say, 'Yes. This sucks. This is what it is and how do I move forward from here?'"

Diedrich says her patients say it's a year or more before they feel a sense of normalcy after this life-changing event.

Hawkins has kept his sense of humor and now he can't wait to go back to work, but he has even bigger plans.

"I recently became engaged, and my fiancee--soon to be wife--stuck by me through all this. I love her."

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