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      One Step at a Time

      Physical Therapy Clinic Helps Client Walk Again After Motorcycle Accident

      physical therapy

      On His Feet

      William Beachem learns to walk again with the help of graduate students in the Widener Physical Therapy Pro-Bono Clinic.

      When William Beachem first arrived at the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic in November 2017, he required a wheelchair, wore full leg braces and was unable to walk.

      He came to the Widener-operated clinic for rehabilitation after a motorcycle accident. The crash occurred while he was riding in Maryland two months earlier. It crushed his lower body and broke multiple bones in both his legs.

      Jaclyn Krempasky, a second-year graduate student in the Institute for Physical Therapy Education, was one of the students who worked with Beachem in the clinic three days a week. She remembered their first interaction.

      "William was a very intimidating looking patient," Krempasky said of her client's injuries. "I was a little nervous to work with him. He looked very fragile."

      One night in January, during an ordinary session after only two months in the clinic, Beachem did something extraordinary: he took his first steps since the accident.

      "I couldn't believe it," Beachem said, while holding back tears. "That was the start of my way back."

      Krempasky was shocked as well. "Slowly I was letting go, more and more and he just started walking back and forth," she said. "He did so great. I knew he hit a big milestone in his rehab that night."

      A native of Chester, Beachem grew up down the street from Widener on 13th Street. He moved to Maryland 26 years ago where he still lives with his wife and manages a transportation business.

      physical therapy

      First Steps

      Krempasky was with Beachem at the parallel bars as he put one foot in front of the other for the first time in months.

      The accident required Beachem to have multiple surgeries and remain hospitalized for two months. When Beachem was ready for physical rehabilitation, he wanted to find a facility close to his family in Chester. The hospital staff at MedStar National Rehabilitation in Washington, D.C., where William was airlifted after the crash, recommended Widener's clinic.

      "This accident should've financially ruined me and should've put me in a really bad place." Beachem said. "I am deeply indebted and very thankful for Widener and its staff. Widener has been there every step of the way."

      Since opening its doors in 2009, the clinic treats an average of 1,000 uninsured and underinsured individuals annually. From bone and joint injuries to clients who require rehabilitation after suffering a stroke, students in the graduate physical therapy program, under the supervision of volunteer licensed therapists, evaluate and treat clients with a range of needs and complexities. Working in the clinic offers a unique hands-on learning environment for these therapists-in-training.

      Krempasky is grateful for the opportunity to help William reach that recovery milestone, as well as for the learning experience she gained from treating a client with extensive injuries.

      "Going from first working with him and being afraid of his injuries to then seeing him without the braces, standing him up and walking with him was probably one of the best experiences I've had in the clinic so far," she said.

      Beachem's next goal is to be able to mow his lawn come summer. There is more work to be done before that is possible, but with this milestone under his belt, Beachem is determined to get there. As for Krempasky and the students at the clinic, they will be there to support him every step of the way.

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