Aaron was practicing on a local motocross track in Simi Valley, CA in preparation for the AMA National Motocross Series. On the approach to the largest jump on the track, Aaron's bike mal-functioned, causing him to lose valuable speed at the most crucial part of the launch. As a result, Aaron was flung over the front of the motorcycle while still airborn. Aaron impacted the ground headfirst, breaking cervical vertebrae 4, 6, and completely shattering the 5th cervical vertebra. Aaron lay motionless but conscious on the race track. Friends and onlookers immediately rushed to Aaron's aid. Aaron instructed them not to touch him but rather call for paramedics to get a Medi-flight helicopter. Upon arrival of the paramedic team, Aaron told them not to remove his helmet, as he knew his neck had been broken. He was then flown to Los Robles Regional Hospital, Thousand Oaks, CA. where a team of neurosurgeons, headed by Dr. John Lee, fused the broken vertebrae with a titanium plate and 5 screws. Dr. Lee's prognosis was that Aaron would have a "one in a million" chance of ever regaining any type of function. Aaron remained in acute care for one month having experienced respiratory failure and other serious complications. Once the medical complications stabilized, Aaron was transferred to Northridge Hospital Medical Center where he began the process of rehabilitation.
Northridge Hospital Rehabilitation Unit - Aaron was evaluated by Dr. Thomas Hedge. Aaron was then assigned to physical therapist, Roger Rich and occupational therapist, Michelle Hardy. Said Roger, "I found a skinny, 20 year old, lying supine in bed, in a rigid neck brace who could not move one muscle below his shoulders, save for a flicker in his left big toe and who could not move himself one millimeter in any direction. I took what seemed like so little at first glance as hopeful because the flicker in his toe was accompanied by scattered sensation throughout his body below his injury level. Not many others, however, saw much to give them hope, including his doctor".
With the grim prognosis unknown to Aaron, he attacked his therapy sessions with a single-minded determination. Aaron utilized the powers of visualization, meditation, and positive outcome thinking to induce Mind over Matter. A key element to Aaron's success is the intimate involvement of his family and friends. Aaron's mother, Laquita, lived in the hospital with him, becoming his arms, hands, and legs, removing small frustrations. Aaron's father, Dan, provided further security by maintaining life outside the hospital. This gave Aaron the opportunity to focus his energy into his therapy sessions, working for return of function, rather than learning adaptive skills. The minute muscular impulses gradually became muscle movement. The tedious, repetitive motion helped turn Aaron's impeded neuro-pathways into super neuro-highways (Neuroplasticity). Aaron was an in-patient for 5 months and continued therapy at Northridge as an out-patient for 7 months. Although still highly impared and confined to an electric wheelchair, on the first year post injury anniversary, the insurance company deemed Aaron rehabilitated, releasing him from any further therapy. However, Aaron knew that his body was just beginning to respond. Incredibly dark days ensued. Aaron needed proper guidance and specialized therapy to meet the functional goals he knew were possible. But where and how was this to be accomplished.....
Aaron is an athlete, albeit disabled at this time, his athletic mentality is fiercer than ever before. An athlete's mind is fueled by excess, excessive drive, excessive determination. Their spirit thrives on excellence and in constant pursuit of progress. Aaron needed someone, at this point in his recovery process, that understood this. Someone with indepth knowledge of repairing a severely altered, catastrophically injured , non-functional body. Someone willing to overturn every stone in pursuit of recovery. Someone with deep compassion that could feel, respect, and understand Aaron's plight. Someone with passion and drive for excellence. Someone truly dedicated to creating a difference in Aaron's young life, as well as in others. As near impossible and tall an order as this was, our hopes and prayers were manifested in an extraordinary human being by the name of Taylor-Kevin Isaacs.
Aaron's evaluation with Taylor was on June 12, 2000. In addition to the physical assessment, Taylor studied Aaron's medical report, x-rays, and had Aaron complete a "client attitude profile". Since Aaron's accident, he and his mother Laquita have counseled with numerous physicians, therapists, and psychologists. Not one, of the many evaluations they had been through with these various professionals, came close to being as complete, detailed, and thorough as Taylor's. With all the information gathered, Taylor then designed a comprehensive program, specifically crafted to Aaron's precise condition and goals. A complete nutritional program was also established based on Aaron's specific needs. The program was based on 4 days per week for 2 hour sessions. Each muscle group was trained twice a week using a split routine. During this period Taylor provided the manual resistance and motion. The program design provided muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, posture, flexibility, reactive neuromuscular training, balance, and psychosocial aspects. Taylor also designed a comprehensive home exercise program and trained Laquita to assist Aaron.
When your goal is to maximize potential after a catastrophic injury, such as Aaron's, rehabilitation becomes a way of life. Aaron and Laquita have dedicated their lives to this process. Each and every day spent focusing on recovery. Aaron's functional return was slow and arduous, however, a unsuspecting new perspective occured, giving way to excited celebration of each new flicker of movement. Aaron and Laquita removed the concept of time and focused instead on the miniscule gains building on one another. After many months Taylor no longer provided the manual assistance, Aaron's muscles were strong enough for him to hold a 1 pound dumbbell. And the progress continues to this day, 15 years later.
Tom was born and raised in the west San Fernando Valley. He was an athlete from the get-go and while attending Cleveland High School participated in both varsity football and track. In 1977 he graduated high school and entered Cal State Northridge as a pre-med student and he stayed active in sports with the snow and water ski teams. He transferred to Los Angeles Trade Tech College and received a degree in Electrical Contracting and Motor Control. After college he added golf, hiking, cycling, softball, and running to his athletic regimen. He became a competitive cyclist and rode both mountain and road bikes, and for eight years was a sponsor of the Santa Clarita Velo, a local cycling club. Tom started his successful electrical contracting business, Current Electrical Services, in 1987, and built a steady clientele based on his expertise and reliability. Tom has been married for twenty-five years to Kim Stanfield Bolewski and they have three sons: Christopher age 21, Danny age 18, and Alex age 17.
Injury: January 20, 2008
While dirt bike riding with family and friends in the California Desert, Tom went over handle bars. While rate of speed was not determined, he was in 4th gear. Tom went head first into an embankment some 10 feet away. He never lost consciousness, and knew from the beginning his injury was bad. Todd and Danny stayed with Tom while Alex and Tim went for help. A helicopter arrived on scene 45 minutes after injury. He was taken to Kern Medical Center Trauma Unit.
Extent of injury:
- Broken back at T-7. break is stable, doesn’t require surgery
- Swelling in the spinal cord at C-4 & C-5 causing unknown amount paralysis
- 3” skull fracture
- Right orbital socket crushed
- Blind in right eye
- Both cheekbones crushed inward toward his brain
- Complete fracture of all sinus cavities through to the brain causing air pockets in his skull
- Teeth and jaw wired shut to stabilize the face
Tom was told he would never get off the ventilator.
Tom was told he would never move anything below the shoulders.
Tom was told he would be driving his wheelchair with a straw.
Tom was told he had permanent brain damage so he would have to live in a nursing home.
Tom: “Don’t believe everything you hear!”