Rob Pittman loves basketball, a sport he has been playing since he was 3 years old. In September 2014, Rob had just transferred to Rowan University in South Jersey to play Division 3 basketball. A few days short of his 21st birthday, Rob was involved in a car accident and sustained a spinal cord injury that left him partially paralyzed and unable to walk. He needed a tracheostomy to help him breathe and a feeding tube in his stomach for nourishment. He spent a month in acute care before being transferred to Magee to start his journey back last October.
“When I got there, I couldn’t do anything. One of my first days at Magee, the therapist told me to stand. I didn’t think I could do it,” Rob says.
With the help of his therapists, Rob started standing. By December 2014, he was taking a few steps, and his trach and feeding tubes had been removed. He was ready to move on to outpatient therapy at Magee Riverfront in the Day Rehab program. Rob attended Day Rehab five days a week for six hours a day, continuing to work with the entire rehab team including nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy, and psychology.
Month by month, Rob’s walking continued to progress. By January 2015, Rob was walking with a walker. In February, he moved on to crutches and started using the Bioness L300 PLUS, a device that uses electrical stimulation to move weak muscles in the leg, so he could clear his foot more easily. When summertime came, Rob was walking with a cane. He finished therapy in August 2015, walking without a cane indoors.
This past September, it was time for Rob to return to school – a scary prospect after taking a full year off. He transferred to Temple University with a major in Facilities Management and a full course load. He earned a 3.4 GPA for the fall semester. Rob is now able to walk around campus using the Bioness, and he is beginning to walk without it as he continues to get stronger. He often sees Magee staff and patients around campus.
Rob credits his ability to fight his way back to an internal drive. “I always worked hard no matter what. I learned that being an athlete,” Rob says. “You have to push yourself first.”
Rob also has the support of his parents, extended family, and friends. Along with two childhood friends from Chester, PA, Rob started an organization called Strive Everyday for Greatness (SEFG). They started with a sneaker giveaway for underprivileged children. In the fall, they do a book bag giveaway. This year, they adopted five families for Christmas and provided food and gifts. Rob and his friends founded the organization as a way to give back to the community. What a role model Rob is for all of us!
Rob is grateful to the staff at Magee for the role in his recovery. “Magee changed everything,” Rob says. “The staff made me realize I can do everything I want to do.” We hope that means you will be back on the basketball court very soon, Rob!