SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A local man who was wheelchair-bound after suffering a spinal cord injury is now sharing his story to spread hope to others.
In 2016, David Ortman fell down in his home, leaving him with no feeling from the neck down.
While four years have passed, he remembers the event vividly.
“I didn’t realize that the blanket was caught around my foot and my easy chair. And I ended up falling and I was too weak to get up,” Ortman said.
Ortman was rushed to Sanford Health, where he underwent surgery due to spinal cord compression.
“After we had the surgery and I ended up in the rehab unit was, you know, am I going to be laying in the bed for the rest of my life?” Ortman said.
Today, Ortman is up and moving on his own two feet. Dr. Peter Johnson says recovering from spinal cord injuries like Ortman’s is possible, but not easy.
“He went through a comprehensive inpatient rehab program, outpatient therapies, even received some in-home therapies and lately he’s continued to improve and progress with our accessible wellness center,” Johnson said.
Ortman spent 90 days at Sanford’s in-patient rehab center, then spent a year in a wheelchair.
“A lot of it is attitude, and I truly believe that. And I just put it in my mind that I was gonna one way or another walk out of this darn hospital,” Ortman said.
He credits the entire Sanford staff for his recovery– but those who helped Ortman say he was the one who made such an incredible recovery possible.
“He always had such a great positive attitude. And I think that was important in his recovery. And he was encouraging to others. He’s been a mentor to some of our other spinal cord injury patients. And so, he’s a remarkable gentleman and I give him a lot of credit,” Johnson said.
“That’s just my attitude on life. It always has been, I mean, I’ve always tried to be an upbeat person and, you know, my glass is always half full, it’s never half empty,” Ortman said.
By sharing his story he wants to provide hope for others experiencing a similar injury.
“The first thing they always ask is, well, how fast do you recover? And I say, you know, everybody’s different, you know, but I always, always tried to… to emphasize that that attitude is everything,” Ortman said.
Dr. Johnson adds that injuries like this stress the importance of maintaining strength and balance as we age to avoid falls.