During the senior year of high school, most students are busy preparing for college, planning for their future and anxiously counting down the days to graduation. Jonathan Savage was among those students, until Sept. 2, 2015 when an accident changed the rest of his life.
“It was my fifth day into my senior year,” Savage recalled. “I ended up getting out of school early that day, and I decided it would be a good idea to get on my buddy’s motorcycle. All I remember is taking off on the bike, but I ended up hitting a retaining wall that caused me to suffer a spinal cord injury.”
As a result of the accident, Jonathan became paralyzed. He suffered a T4 to T9 spinal cord injury.
Following his discharge from the hospital, Jonathan began the road to recovery with one goal in mind: he wanted to walk at his high school graduation.
“When I came to San Antonio, I was looking at multiple rehab centers. When we looked at [Encompass Health San Antonio], I fit in their categories and I saw their technology and I said, I need to be at [Encompass Health San Antonio]. It felt like it was the right timing, and it was where I was supposed to be.”
Working with the team at Encompass Health San Antonio, Jonathan was on the trajectory to accomplish his goal of walking at his graduation. “I was on loftstrand crutches, and I was about a month out from my graduation. My goal was to walk with a single point cane,” he said.
Jonathan was adamant that he would accomplish his goals, and he talked about how grueling his first steps were. He described the painful experience, but was amazed at how his therapists patiently worked with him and did what needed to be done to help him accomplish his goals. “I have a second family here,” Jonathan said with a fond smile. “I spent quite a lot of time here rehabbing, so I have a special bond with these people here. It was a great place to be in.”
When his graduation day finally came, Jonathan was able to fulfill his dream of walking across the stage to receive his diploma. “When they called my name, and I was walking across, I was able to look over the crowd after I hugged the judge. That was a great feeling, to know that I did something a lot of people can’t do in a normal situation, and I did it in my situation.”
When Jonathan was asked what kept him motivated throughout his healing process, Jonathan credited setting high standards, and his team of therapists. “I was a track runner, and I set really high goals when I ran track. That’s just how I do it with my walking, setting really high goals. My goals aren’t going to change because my situation changed.”
When asked if he would give advice to others in his situation, Jonathan said, “As much as you want to give up, I want you to know that the tunnel is dark, but there’s a light at the end of that tunnel. Recovering is possible, and it’s doable.”