Froedtert Hospital offers unique rehabilitation therapy

Posted at 7:30 PM, Jun 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-15 20:30:51-04

Snapping your spine then being able to walk three weeks later sounds impossible, right? Not for professional stuntman Phillip Smage. He is a patient at Froedtert Hospital Spinal Rehabilitation. 

Smage attends physical therapy as well as recreational therapy, and attributes that to his physical success. 

"I've learned to work longer and harder than anything I've done in the past," he said. "Which, my life has been all hard work up to this and this is the hardest I've pushed for anything."

Part of Smage's recreational therapy is to tend to his garden, which he's named 'The Sma-gical Garden of Action.' He says attempting to break a Guinness Book of World Records stunt is what's turned him into a Gardner. 

"Flying 300 feet through the air on a UTV and over jumping the landing is how I snapped my neck," said Smage. 

Immediately after the crash Smage was bedridden and feared he'd be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.  But physical and recreational therapies have him happily walking upright just three weeks later.

Smage's recreational therapist Erinn Kulba supports him every step of the way. 

"It's really rewarding to have patients come through and acknowledge their hard work and see the transition that they make while they're a patient with us," says Kulba. 

Kulba says recreational therapy is more fun than traditional therapies and sometimes creates more firsts for patients. She says working on a positive activity can encourage them to go back into their other therapies and try just as hard as they did with her. 

Smage says his trying attitude has encouraged him to tone down his stunts going forward. But he'll be back on his motorcycle and snowboard again. He plans to tell his story to young children, encouraging them to be safe, smart and never stop doing what they love.