Regaining a zest for life

Losing both legs following a motorcycle accident didn't stop Tony Maglietta from appreciating what life has to offer. The 53-year old father of two regularly attends rock concerts, travels to exotic countries and believes that life is too short to be spent feeling depressed.

In the summer of 1996, Tony's free spirit and quest for adventure took him on a trip across Europe with his motorcycle. After visiting with relatives in Italy, Tony was travelling through Belgium when he was hit by a 27-ton transport truck. His right leg was crushed under the truck's wheel and his left leg sustained grave injuries.

Tony was rushed to a hospital where his right leg was amputated. His left leg was salvaged, but with severe and permanent damage. Upon his return to Canada, Tony was admitted to an acute care hospital in Toronto where the difficult decision was made to amputate his remaining leg.

Amputee rehabilitation program

Several months after Tony's life-changing accident, he was admitted into St. John's Rehab's inpatient amputee rehabilitation program. After enduring more than 20 major surgeries over the course of a 15-month period, Tony had a difficult recovery ahead. But with the help of the team at St. John's Rehab, Tony's goal of returning to work and life was possible. "It was important to me that I went back to work and regained my independence," Tony explains, "but I needed the team's help to get me there."

At St. John's Rehab, a multidisciplinary team works closely with patients to develop individually customized goals. From the occupational therapists and physiotherapists who helped Tony regain his strength and mobility, to the nurses, doctors and pharmacists who helped him manage his pain and medications, each team member was instrumental in helping Tony achieve his goals.

By 1998, Tony went back to work, returning to his previous job as Senior Technical Assistant at the Toronto Transit Commission. Being back at work provided Tony with a feeling of independence and purpose. His vitality and appreciation for life was restored. "Although I had lost so much, St. John's Rehab helped me become a stronger person in every way," says Tony. "Now there is nothing stopping me."

Positive attitude

Tony emphasizes the importance of communicating and socializing after surviving an amputation. "Talking out your feelings and frustrations with others is so important. You may not realize it, but even just a brief chat with a friend can make a positive change in your day-to-day outlook." In addition to the emotional and social support he received from his rehab team, it was the friendly conversations with staff around the hospital, from the cleaning and cafeteria staff, to the hospital's administration staff, that gave Tony a feeling of hope and belonging.

Thirteen years after his accident, Tony has been a patient at St. John's Rehab over fifteen times. Due to complications with his intubator during surgery in Belgium, Tony had to undergo a tracheotomy. He later came to St. John's Rehab to rebuild his strength and improve his breathing. Tony also experienced numerous problems with his shoulder including overexertion from using his wheelchair, and an injury caused by a fall. But even when faced with these challenges, Tony maintains a positive attitude.

Today, Tony makes the long drive from Stouffville to St. John's Rehab for weekly occupational therapy sessions for his shoulder. "There are other places I could go for my rehab, but the caring, hands-on professionalism of the staff is why I keep coming back. St. John's Rehab is where I want to be."