Growing up on the wrestling mat, Zander Baker knows a thing or two about hard work. The junior at Wilber-Clatonia High School in Nebraska had plans of becoming a force in Class C wrestling this winter. But after one summer night, while playing a game of hide-and-seek with his friends, he had to put those dreams on hold.
While playing, Zander accidentally hit his shoulder on a power line resulting in serious injuries from electrocution. The 17-year-old was life-flighted to CHI Health St. Elizabeth in Lincoln with fourth-degree burns, several wounds, and a hole in his shoulder.
Forty-seven days at St. Elizabeth and multiple surgeries later, Zander came to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals in early September with the same attitude he displays on the wrestling mat: ready to give it his all.
“On the second day, he was walking really well,” Kerry Baker, Zander’s mother, said. “He just made huge strides once he got to Madonna. They were just wonderful.”
The grappler quickly hit goals in Madonna’s inpatient and outpatient therapy sessions, not to mention enjoying the food from the cafeteria.
“It helped my mentality of getting back,” Zander said. “Everyone was really helpful and they wanted to make me do better. The food was really good and that gave me more energy for therapy. It was great at Madonna.”
Taking advantage of Madonna’s equipment, Zander started regaining his strength by pedaling on the NuStep T5, a cross-trainer that helps in rehabilitation after injury.
“It allows you to exercise and helps with your cardiovascular,” Scott Fandrich said, one of Zander’s inpatient physical therapists. “It helps with your conditioning and fitness overall. Zander did great.”
“Scott put me on that, and I tried pushing myself to what he wanted me to do,” Zander remembers. “After doing that, my legs felt like Jell-O. The next day, I was more willing to take steps without a walker, and by the third day, I was able to walk on my own.”
Improving his strength and starting to walk again, Zander began to envision getting back on the wrestling mat. With hard work and physical therapy, not only is Zander back wrestling for Wilber-Clatonia, he’s winning his fair share of matches.
“I was really excited,” Zander said, recalling his first win of the season. “I can actually do pretty well this year. My leg isn’t still fully healed, but I’m going to show everyone I can come back from this.”
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