Two St. Louis area police officers are recovering at a Denver area hospital after suffering severe spinal cord injuries this summer.
It's a place where anything is possible.
Craig Hospital, where Hazelwood police officer Craig Tudor, Ballwin police officer Mike Flamion and hundreds of others are recovering from catastrophic spinal cord injuries.
"We try to give them back their lives and provide a vision for what quality of life might be,” says Dr. Mark Johansen, medical director of the spinal cord injury program at Craig Hospital.
A vision put into sharp focus by doctors, therapists and nurses using state-of-the-art technology, like a zero-gravity treadmill that retrains people to walk again.
For Officer Craig Tudor, some of his important first steps demand hours of physical therapy and work in the upper extremity lab each and every day.
"I look forward to the physical therapy,” says Craig. “Not because it's easy, but because I know that's what's going to help me achieve the goals that I want to achieve."
"In order to help people maximize their potential for recovery we have to give them very intense training,” explains Candy Tefertiller, director of physical therapy at Craig Hospital. “We have to provide them a lot of repetition of these tasks so they can turn them into skill behaviors again."
Intense training that bring out an intensity in Craig Tudor. The day we met, he was getting ready for his first therapy session in the pool.
"I mean I wouldn't expect an Olympic swimmer out of me," jokes Craig.
But after just a few minutes in the water, Craig was snorkeling.
"He's using his arms to propel himself forward," explains his therapist.
Something many patients don't attempt in their first session.
"What I like about the snorkeling is that you’re on your stomach,” says the therapist. “Most everything you do is on your back."
All over the hospital there are little symbols of success, like dozens of rubber duckies patients give to therapists after they finish their program.
In the physical therapy room, there are pennants with thank you notes from patients written on the back.
"What we want to do is empower patients to take control of their situation,” says Dr. Johansen. “Let them know that they can do this, that they're not alone."
A philosophy Craig Hospital promises in every patient they touch.
"The people here are great,” says Craig Tudor. “I haven't heard one person say to anyone something's not possible."
The experts at Craig Hospital say while the first six months of rehab after a spinal cord injury are critical to recovery, many patients can continue to improve up to 18 months after an injury.
As for Craig Tudor, doctors are hopeful he could be home in time for Christmas.