“Workers’ compensation is an incredibly important program. Without that program, we would never have been here.”
Aaron Leurquin was working as an overnight supervisor and forklift instructor at a warehouse in Wisconsin when he was involved in a workplace accident. He was in a stand-up forklift when the trailer bounced and slid. Although he jumped off, he was still too close, and the top of the forklift hit him in the back and he sustained a severe spinal cord injury.
Shortly after his injury, he and his family decided to come to Craig Hospital for his spinal cord injury neurorehabilitation. “We had a bunch of people do some research for us, and this was the best place,” says Heather, Aaron’s wife. “Being one of the best places in the country was a huge draw. This is the next 40 or 50 years of Aaron’s life, and we wanted to make sure that he got the best wheel up on it that he could.”
Leading up to Aaron’s time at Craig, he and his family met with a Craig Hospital staff member to talk about what his journey was going to look like. “They said ’It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be a lot of work,’” Heather says. “And it has been, but the inpatient team is amazing. Some of the nurses and staff are like family now.”
As part of the team-focused approach at Craig, each patient is assigned a full team of clinicians including their own psychologist for counseling sessions with the patient and family, at a frequency that works best for them. “Some of the most impactful things that have helped Aaron were the therapy sessions. This experience can be very difficult, not just physically but mentally as well. The psychologists were able to help him talk through this process because of how hard this journey can be,” says Heather.
Now, after a lot of hard work, Aaron has gained back much of his independence. When he first arrived for his rehabilitation, he was in a power wheelchair; now he is in a manual wheelchair and is able to do most of his self-care on his own. He has gained a large part of his life back: his independence.
Aaron and Heather have learned a lot on their journey, but two things stick out to them. “Workers’ compensation is an incredibly important program,” says Heather. “And don’t skip safety steps. Those steps are there for a reason.”