Fitness center reaches out to offer help in Upper Valley man’s recovery

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 3:42 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2021 at 4:30 PM EST
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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s another afternoon of rehab for Maria Dailey’s 20-year-old son, Peter.

“He’ll be 21 this April,” she said.

The two have been going to the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction regularly since the holidays.

“They’ve been working with us just above and beyond what we’ve expected,” Maria said.

It’s been about two-and-a-half years since Peter suffered a traumatic brain injury after surviving a 30-foot fall.

“He is a miracle in a lot of ways,” Maria said. “He’s got a good sense of humor and that keeps us going.”

Peter stayed in hospitals for seven months before returning home in May 2019. Any physical therapy going forward would be the family’s responsibility.

“It’s been challenging. I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” Maria said.

The Daileys have what’s called a gait trainer to help Peter walk on his own. But due to its size and how it works, he’s only able to use it outside.

“He’s gained ground,” Maria said. “He’s walking every day. Then, winter hit.”

Not just winter, winter during a pandemic. Peter couldn’t use his gait trainer outside, and safety protocols and concerns made it difficult for him to find a place to use it inside. After posting the problem on Facebook, UVAC reached out.

“We’ve got long, beautiful hallways. I think that might work,” said Erin Buck of the Upper Valley Aquatic Center.

According to staffers at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, from when it reopened last June to early February, there have been 60,000 check-ins and no communicated cases that they know of in the building. They attribute that to their strict guidelines, including mask-wearing, limited capacity, spacing and sanitizer stations.

“Those gave me some reassurances that Peter, who can’t produce a cough like you or I can, would be protected as much as possible,” Maria said.

“All of our cleaning protocols I think just made it that much easier to kind of step in and receive this help that he is clearly needing,” Buck said.

Through family donations, the hope is to get Peter a NuStep machine, which will work the entire body during Peter’s recovery process.

“With a brain injury, getting that blood flowing and getting that oxygen up to your brain is really critical to healing and being able to recuperate not just your physical self, but also your mental capacities,” Maria explained.

While Peter works to get his mind and body cooperating again, when it comes to cooperation, this community has been one step ahead.

“We’re very appreciative,” Maria said.

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