Steve Posadas’ fiery resolve helps him endure a winding journey back to wellness.
His life changed forever just before midnight on Nov. 7, 2012.
A reckless driver going 70 miles an hour plowed into the 41-year-old Reno resident as he crossed the street, crumpling his body against metal and smashing his head into the windshield before he went up and over the vehicle. The driver fled the scene at South Virginia and Hubbard streets but was later apprehended.
The accident landed Posadas in the Intensive Care Unit at Renown Regional Medical Center for several weeks, a time period he barely recalls. His prognosis was grim. Steve had suffered a traumatic brain injury, and multiple fractures and lacerations.
Doctors put Posadas in a medically induced coma to relieve pressure on the brain. Like a modern-day Frankenstein, he was outfitted with head bolts to drain fluids and monitor brain activity. Eventually he was transferred to Renown Institute for Neurosciences, where he stayed on a feeding tube before he finally showed signs of lucidity.
Posadas’ mother, Judy Steiner, remembers witnessing her son’s reemergence into the world. “He was talking and coherent. It really seemed like he was coming back.” And he was. Once the feeding tube was removed, Posadas transferred to Renown Rehabilitation Hospital. There his work truly began.
As he traveled the proverbial road to recovery, Posadas faced an uphill battle on all sides. He couldn’t walk. He had poor balance and reduced hand movement. He suffered from a severe speech impediment, presented flat facial expressions, and functioned with a short temper — direct results of his brain injury. Rehabilitation became his life, a series of physical, occupational and speech therapies.
Physical Therapist Katie Rada admits that Posadas was impulsive and “wanting to try everything before he was ready.” Yet between his eager willingness to get better and her determined care, he walked on his own within two months, ditching the walker that he had a habit of setting aside anyway.
Occupational therapy focuses on improving a person’s fine motor skills, and in the beginning Posadas was sorely lacking — he couldn’t even sit up to take a shower. But Occupational Therapist Jeff Broderick worked diligently with Posadas to help him regain some of his physical independence. Together they increased range of motion in his badly damaged left hand. Broderick also had Posadas simulate normal, everyday tasks, such as baking cookies, to regain mobility and hand-eye coordination.
Speech Therapist Lisa Stiegman recalls that Posadas barely spoke above a whisper and seemed anxious. She worked with Steve to “amp up” his voice volume and strengthen and restore his facial expressions. “His voice is still a bit soft, but very understandable now,” says Stiegman.
A former asphalt truck driver, Posadas continues to progress. He walks with leg braces and can even navigate the stairs of his mother’s home without the handrail. He speaks softly but coherently; his facial expressions are subtle, but his eyes snap with alertness at questions.
He clearly remembers the care he received at Renown Rehabilitation Hospital. “All of the therapists were great,” he recalls. “The CNAs did their job with a smile and the therapists were organized, punctual and very good to me.”
Renown may have changed his life, but Posadas definitely left his mark on the caregivers at Renown. “From where Posadas started to where he is now is mind-blowing,” says Katie. “He was one of my most inspiring patients.”