Wreck, recovery put Wallace State student on new path

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Joshua Holmes is completing prerequisite coursework and will soon be applying to enter the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Wallace State Community College.

HANCEVILLE –  Joshua Holmes had planned to be a high school physical education teacher. That changed for the Snead man early last year, however, when an automobile accident altered his path and brought him to Wallace State Community College.

Holmes, 24, was one of five people in one of two cars involved in a wreck in February 2016. He said the car he was in was struck broadside by another that ran a stop sign at about 60 miles per hour. Sitting in the back, passenger-side seat, he took brunt of the impact, suffering numerous injuries that included a broken pelvis, internal injuries and head trauma. He was unconscious for four days and his family could only wait and pray for him to improve.

The first month and a half after the wreck is lost to Holmes. He said his first memory is waking up in the back of an ambulance that was taking him from Huntsville to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta to begin months of rehabilitation.

“And it’s just a glimpse,” he said of the memory. “I remember waking up in the ambulance and thinking we were going about 100 miles an hour and that we were going to wreck. I remember I was terrified when I woke up.”

He said his memory is blank for another two to three of weeks after that, with his next clear memory being his doctors wanting him to pull himself up to a sitting position after being laid down flat for the first time. “With a pelvis break, that hurts incredibly bad,” he said. “That’s a pain I will never forget.”

Holmes went through months of physical, speech, recreational and occupational therapy, creating a lasting bond with the men and women who guided his treatments at the rehabilitation center.  “It’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “Forever I’m going to have those bonds with those people. There’s a lot of good that came out of this wreck, because those are amazing people that I would never have known if I hadn’t been in that situation. You’ve got to find the good in this.”

From that experience, Holmes decided to change his major from Physical Education to Occupational Therapy Assistant and started taking classes at Wallace State Community College to complete the prerequisites he would need to enter the program.

Though he went through several different types of therapy during his recovery, Holmes said occupational therapy was “the most fun.”

“They gave me my goals and said what do you want to get back to,” he said. “I let them know what I wanted to get back to and they gave me the exercises – both mentally and physically – to help me reach those goals again.”

Those goals included driving and playing golf, so they had him use a driving simulator to get started on that process. “I wrecked the first two times,” he laughed. And they took him to a driving range to start practicing his golf swing. They also helped him in the kitchen, making sure he could cook and clean up after himself.

Holmes said he looked forward to occupational therapy every day and that that is what he wants his future patients to experience when he begins working in the field. “I want them to have that positive mentality,” he said.

“Going through that therapy and what the therapists did for me, it absolutely made me fall in love with therapy and made me want to just turn my life over to helping others, helping others the way that those therapists helped me,” Holmes said. “I want let others know that you can feel like you’re at the bottom, you can feel like there’s no way you can get past this, but if you believe in yourself and have faith in yourself, and you have faith in the lord, and you have faith that other people do love you and do care for you and do believe in you, you can do anything you want. I just want to do that. That’s why I’m here at Wallace.

“I want to make others’ lives better,” he added. “I want to share that message to each of my patients that I’ve been there, I’ve been exactly where you are. Have faith and have hope. Work hard and you’ll make it.”

See video of Joshua Holmes on the Wallace State YouTube channel: