Cody Petravich was an active 24-year-old on May 29, 2017. Three weeks later, he woke up at Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Stine Rehabilitation Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Schuylkill.
Petravich had been in a violent rollover motor vehicle crash. He sustained multiple fractures, several to his face. There was a traumatic brain injury and an injury to his heart. His lungs were bruised. He was intubated. His jaw was wired shut, and he had a feeding tube.
Before the crash, “I had been holding down four jobs,” Petravich says. After the crash, he couldn’t walk.
Though there were many things Petravich couldn’t do the day he woke up, the staff at Stine, including Matt Hoppel, physical therapist, Janelle Kilmer, speech-language pathologist, and Kim Walacavage, occupational therapist, had a plan.
A tough start, then gradual leaps
“The first day was tough,” Walacavage says. “Cody was very tired. He had a hard time attending to tasks. Since his jaw was wired shut, he was unable to eat solid food and needed to use a communication board to share messages with staff.” He was also in pain, Kilmer notes. Progress would be slow – at least at the start.
“The first day, he took no steps,” Hoppel says of Petravich. “The second day, he took three.”
By day 17, Petravich walked 300 yards on his own. He could also go up and down two flights of stairs by himself. Thanks to Kilmer’s work, he no longer needed the feeding tube. Recovery was in high gear.
“Friends who visited were amazed at the difference between how I looked on the first day and how I looked after two weeks,” Petravich says. He left Stine for home on July 7.
Back to life and multiple jobs
“We try to get people home,” Hoppel says. “My favorite thing is tracking ‘discharge to home.’”
Today Petravich is not only home but back to working multiple jobs. He tends bar. He helps out in a pizza shop. His day job is in construction.
“The people at Stine taught me how to live my life again,” Petravich says. “They brought me back to the place where I can do virtually whatever I want.”
– Laurie Harrington