While on vacation at his parents’ house in Durango, Mexico in April 2020, Victor Mendoza-Gutierrez was enjoying a typical ride on his motorcycle—until the driver of a car to his left ignored a stop sign at the intersection. Victor was unable to stop in time and the car slammed into him, pinning his left leg between the two vehicles.
“It was a scary moment,” recalls Victor, age 25. “Thankfully, I had on protective gear, but I couldn’t bend my leg or get up.”
At the local hospital, Victor learned he had severe fractures of the tibia and fibula bones along with knee and skin damage. Due to considerable swelling, physicians needed to immobilize his knee for several weeks before performing three surgeries requiring screws and plates. When he finally returned to his home in Manchester in August, he couldn’t walk on his own or work at his job with a local fence company.
“The worst part was not being able to do anything for myself,” he says. “I had to ask for help even to get a glass of water. I felt desperate.”
On the Road to Healing
Victor’s wife, Anahy Jimenez—a patient care assistant at CentraState—suggested that he seek help at nearby CentraState Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. There, physical therapist Marcus Ward, PT, DPT, conducted an evaluation.
“The knee’s normal range of motion is 140° and Victor’s was only 65°,” explains Marcus. “I knew it would be a challenging recovery journey, but I was confident that we could help him.”
Victor began an intense four-month physical therapy program that first focused on restoring mobility. Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Gregg Berkowitz, MD, performed surgery to remove scar tissue and enable greater flexibility, and Victor was back to physical therapy the next day. With ongoing support from Marcus, Victor pushed through the challenges, relearned to walk properly, and built the strength and agility needed to return to his job and an active lifestyle.
By the end of his rehabilitation, Victor’s knee had a range of motion of 143°—a 120 percent improvement from where he started.
“Through perseverance and hard work, Victor went from being bed-bound in Mexico to regaining his function and independence,” adds Marcus. “He never gave up, and that made a big difference.”
In addition to working again, Victor has gotten back on his motorcycle and is ready for summer riding.
“It feels great,” he says. “I have a whole new appreciation for being able to move around and live my life.”