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Published on May 26, 2016

Cone Health Rehabilitation Specialists Help Car Crash Victim Get His Life Back

Charlie Huff, Jr

“You can be in another person’s shoes quick and fast.” Charlie Huff Jr. should know. He was coming home from work shortly after midnight one Friday when a car pulled out just in front of him and then another crashed into him from behind, launching his car into a triple rollover.

Charlie found himself paralyzed, hanging upside down, and stuck in his car. Emergency workers cut the car doors off and the seatbelt off of him. Once at Moses Cone Hospital’s Emergency Department, the staff there got to work: they stitched up a gash in his head and found two broken vertebrae in his neck, which they stabilized with a hard neck collar. The left side of his body was weak . . . and still is.

But Charlie got his life back thanks to his own hard work and the skill and encouragement of therapists at Cone acute care, Inpatient Rehab, home health care and at Cone Health Outpatient Rehab in Charlie’s hometown of Reidsville, where he continues to improve.

Charlie remembers everything, from the initial impact to being stuck in the car, to the demanding schedule of occupational and physical therapy at Inpatient Rehab. Therapy would start at 7:30 a.m. with retraining on the basics: how to bathe and get dressed. He would have another session at 9:00, then another after lunch. He needed to learn to grab a spoon and cup again, how to walk again . . . and 32 days later, Charlie went home.

Charlie Huff doing physical therapy

He continued his improvement at home, and soon he was able to get out of the house. He transitioned to Annie Penn for outpatient therapy. He still wore a neck stabilization collar then, and at first, because his left leg could give out when he walked, his wife needed to push him into therapy in a wheelchair.

Not anymore. Charlie just keeps getting better. He’s walking with a four-footed cane and is so independent with that he’s graduated from physical therapy. He can grip with his left hand and get a cup of water to his mouth. And, he says, “due to therapy I can raise my hands to do some praise.” As a longtime deacon at his church, that’s important to him.

Charlie is tickled with his improvement. He credits Cone’s therapists with pushing him and other patients in a way that’s encouraging. “Come on, man, you can do this!” Charlie laughs at how the therapists weren’t just checking his physical status, but also his mental well-being. They often asked questions to probe his memory, and he liked that aspect of his rehab, too.

All of that is important to Charlie’s life with his wife of 45 years, his two kids, three grandkids, his former co-workers, and lots of church members he has guided over many years. We’re glad to see Charlie’s positive attitude continue to influence others in our community.

That positive attitude is more powerful than the damage done by the drunk driver who pulled out in front of Charlie and the driver who hit him from behind while texting that fateful Friday night.

Go, Charlie!