LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As the holidays get closer, many families across the Commonwealth will decorate their homes with festive lights. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it’s a task that results in a lot of injuries.
Nearly 160 people hurt themselves each day during the holiday season from decorating according to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. That’s what Danny Hamblin experienced on Nov. 27, 2020, and he’s still trying to recover from his spinal cord injury.
“Oh! It was Nov. 27, 2020,” said Hamblin. It’s a day that left the Louisville native paralyzed when he was 65 years old and one that’s made holidays look different.
For four days a week, Hamblin spends two hours at Frazier Rehab Institute. When Spectrum News gave him a visit, he was getting harnessed for walking exercises.
His accident happened during what should be the most festive time of year.
“I was preparing to hang Christmas tree lights. I had a ladder about two stories high,” Hamblin said. “Should’ve moved it and been more cautious, but I took a step and fell and broke my back.”
Hamblin spent countless days in the hospital for surgeries and nearly 16 months not being able to bathe, clothe or drive by himself. Now, he can walk with crutches and even drives himself to rehab. For 45 minutes to an hour, he walks on his treadmill with help from his physical therapists.
Camilo M. Castillo, M.D. serves as the director of the Frazier Rehab Institute and says these types of injuries often happen with people over 65 years old.
“If you are going to put lights on the roof, I recommend you wait and pay for an expert to do it,” said Castillo.
Morgan Wilson, PT DPT, is just one of a few physical therapists that work with Hamblin during his four days a week of rehab.
“So we do stimulation with the pads and we are activating the muscle… to his spinal cord [and] to the brain,” said Wilson.
With every step Hamblin takes, he credits his biggest supporter, his wife.
“She’s taken over and took care of me when I got hurt. She told me you just get better and don’t worry about nothing and I’ll take care of everything,” said Hamblin.
Every day, the 67-year-old inches one day closer to gaining full walking capabilities. He agrees with Castillo, urging people this holiday season to do one thing when it comes to decorating: leave it to the pros.
“My advice would be don’t do it. Just let a professional do it, because it’s not how far you fall, it’s how you land,” said Hamblin.
That’s a message he continues to spread each holiday season. Hamblin’s goal is to walk with no crutches or help but understands that people with spinal cord injuries heal at different rates.