Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Spotlight
July 2012 Spotlight: Kody Peraita
1. Where were you employed before your spinal cord injury? What were your interests?
I was 16 years old and a sophomore at Ayala High School in Chino Hills, CA when I a spinal cord injury.
My interests were baseball; I was the starting shortstop on the Ayala High School varsity team as a freshman. I also enjoyed working out in the gym trying to stay as healthy and strong as possible. When I wasn’t playing baseball I really enjoyed hunting with my mom, dad, and my brother, Garrett. During the summer my thing to do was spending time at the river with my family.
2. How were you injured? What was your initial prognosis?
I was injured on May 27, 2011 while at the Crystal Cove Beach near Laguna Beach. A few minutes after arriving at the beach, and after setting up our spot for the day, I ran into the water and dove into a wave hitting my forehead on a sandbar.
My initial prognosis was a shattered C4 spinal cord injury and an incomplete C5 vertebra fracture. A couple days after my surgery to repair my injured spinal cord and vertebrae my neurosurgeon told my dad, “I believe Kody will walk again!”
3. How did you hear about Project Walk?
While recuperating in the intensive-care unit (ICU) at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo my parents came into contact with the Hargrave family from the Be Perfect Foundation. They informed my parent’s what Project Walk was all about and guided us in the right direction to get here.
4. What makes Project Walk so special and how has Project Walk changed your life?
Project Walk is special to me because of the people and staff at Project Walk. I could tell from day one that the trainers and other personnel at the facility genuinely care for people in my position. Project Walk has changed my life because it allows me to feel normal in returning to a gym-like environment. With motivation from the people around me, self-determination on my part, and the knowledge of my certified trainers, I’ve become stronger, more mobile, and I am starting to achieve the ultimate goal of becoming independent and walking again. It has changed my life in many ways that have made me stronger both mentally and physically.
5. What are your goals?
My goals for the near future, in approximately a year, is to graduate from high school with the credits and test scores good enough to enter a university like USC. Another goal I believe I can achieve is to walk on stage to receive my high school diploma. One of my short term goals, which I am currently improving greatly on, is being able to push my manual wheelchair with no assistance from anyone or powered type wheels.
6. What advice would you give to prospective clients?
I would advise prospective clients to make a connection with their Project Walk trainers. Also, work hard and enjoy the time you have at Project Walk.
7. Kody Peraita’s progress since coming to Project Walk in August 2011:
Kody’s Team of Specialists: Yoshi Ozaki, Rodney Marquez, Kyle Yamauchi.
Lead Specialist – Yoshi Ozaki: Kody’s overall progress has been achieved through his dedication to work hard since beginning his program on August 23, 2011. He trains for three hours per day, two days per week to recover from his incomplete spinal cord injury at the level of the 4th cervical vertebra. He enjoys training that motivates him towards achieving success. Kody continues to challenge himself and his trainers. His devotion and perseverance towards his recovery have inspired clients and staff at Project Walk.
Kody’s neuromuscular system has been dramatically enhanced. He is able to not only extend his knees independently, but also turn on and off his individual knee extensors under control. As his hip flexors are getting stronger, he is now able to bring his knees up against gravity. He has been having some voluntary movements in his feet, hands, and back. One of his next goals is to regain his hamstring activation back.
Kody’s core and shoulders were extremely weak at his first visit to Project Walk. He always needed assistance for spotting or holding his upper body in upright positions. He is now able to balance himself sitting on the training table. Also, he has increased his lower extremity activation as well as improved his core strength and endurance. Kody can stay standing with his hands holding a bar. He has been working on his standing balance for longer periods of time with minimal assistance. His increased shoulder stability helps him move his arms at a greater range of motion and sustain loads onto his shoulders into a hands and knees position with no pain. Recently, Kody was able to do over 20 push-ups the kneeling position, which was a very exciting milestone!
Kody started over ground gait training with the assistance of a platform walker and two trainers. He initiates his hip flexion as well as sustains his knee extensors during the gait cycle. His improvements have been followed by his increased shoulder joint stability, overall strength and endurance, and balance.
Assisting Specialist – Rodney Marquez: I have been working with Kody Peraita since he started at Project Walk. During his 11 month stay at Project Walk, Kody gained tremendous progress on his road to recovery. Working as a team with specialist Yoshi and specialist Kyle, my job is to increase strength in the upper extremities and restore arm function. As of now, Kody shows better connection to his core muscles, arm function, and coordination. For example, Kody is now able to stand with only hip support and able to pick up a basketball, rotate, and then catch and pass the ball. Kody never says no to any kind of work outs we do. Kody is a true athlete and his progression is only the start of Kody’s true potential. I love working with Kody and his loving family. It is an honor being his spinal cord injury recovery specialist. As Kody would say, “Let’s do this!”