As June turned into July, things were about to change drastically for one Bridgeport family. And that change was nothing that anyone in the Hodge family could have expected.
Early Sunday morning, 2010 Bridgeport High School graduate Jeremy Hodge was with friends having some summer fun when things
changed in the blink of an eye. The 20-year-old was injured in a swimming pool accident that, at the time being, has left him paralyzed from the waist down and with steady and improving movement from the waist up. After the incident, he was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.
“He broke his neck with two fractured vertebrae, which were his C-5 and C-6 vertebrae,” said Jeremy’s father Mike Hodge. “He went into surgery this past Sunday around noon and came out between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.”
According to Jeremy’s father, the surgeon told him that the procedure went as expected with no unexpected results or complications. The good news is that there are indications that he may regain usage of parts of his lower body, but his father was cautiously optimistic about what the future holds.
“He has upper body movement and shoulder and arm strength, but he doesn’t have a lot of manual dexterity in his hands. Right now, it’s a lot of crude grasping motions, but his main strength is in his left hand,” Mr. Hodge said. “There is a sense of touch and feel and movement all throughout his lower extremities. He can feel you touch his big toe and feel you picking up his foot and rotating it.
“Everything that I’ve heard let's me know that's a positive sign. They’ve kind of warned us that sense of feel and touch is not necessarily an indication of motor function returning, but you’ve got to have this type sensory sensation first,” he continued. “It could take upwards of weeks to months when you consider the swelling and the impact on the spinal canal as to what will happen. Every person is different so we don’t know what to expect.”
What they are fairly they can expect is major expenses as the result of the medical care currently being received and the upcoming rehabilitation. Jeremy Hodge, his father said, will soon be transferred to HealthSouth in Morgantown for what could likely be months of rehabilitation.
With that in mind, a fund is being set up at Mon Valley Bank (MVB) in Bridgeport. Complete details of that fund will be posted once the details are complete, on connect-bridgeport.com. Individuals wishing to contribute to assist the family can contact the bank situated along Johnson Avenue, Mr. Hodge said.
“The doctors said it could take upwards of six months to have a definitive understanding of what he’s gained back and what he will gain back,” the father said.
Jeremy was working at Pratt Whitney, as a contractor this summer. He recently completed a year playing baseball at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi. From his time at work, at school and during his prep and earlier years, Hodge has a rather large social circle.
“There are no words to describe and express the feeling of gratitude my wife (Marta), myself and my daughter (Malinda) have right now,” Mr. Hodge said. “As a parent, you may or may not like your child’s friends, but I am no more proud to be his father right now by who is associated with. How many 19- and 20-year-olds do you know that come every day to see their friend; even on a holiday? It’s been appreciated.”
Mr. Hodge said that Jeremy’s had “his bad moments,” but that for the most part he’s been positive. He said he’s been using his sense of humor to deal with his situation. He also is aware that Bridgeport is a community that steps up and helps its own.
“He was already wondering if the community is willing to help him that he’d one day like to give back to the community. We don’t know how that’s going to happen, but he’s already talking about it,” Mr. Hodge said.