Nearly four months after suffering serious back injuries in a sprint car wreck, Kevin Swindell is letting his legion of fans know he’s doing well and continues his bid to come back from his injuries.
Swindell, 26, son of legendary sprint car driver Sammy Swindell, gives a first-person account of his journey from the incident to his current condition today in the first of several planned blog entries on OneDirt.com.
The younger Swindell was originally injured on Aug. 13 in a sprint car race in Knoxville, Iowa. His car got collected in a multi-vehicle wreck, flipped several times and hit a retaining wall before coming to rest on its wheels.
Swindell suffered several fractures in his back and spinal cord and underwent two surgeries over the following eight days at nearby Des Moines Mercy Hospital before being released.
Here are some rather poignant excerpts from Swindell’s first blog entry, courtesy of OneDirt.com:
“You could say I’m semi-paralyzed from the waist down. I can voluntarily kick both legs outward to a straight position. I can also lock out my knees enough to stand with a walker. I haven’t gotten any movement back in my ankles or feet to this point, but the doctors and therapists say that the upper leg comes back before the lower.
“Right now I go to therapy for two hours, three days a week. I also just added an extra hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays to try and get as much as I can.
“I spend 30 minutes or so standing with the help of my therapist. They place electrode pads on each muscle group of my legs. This helps them contract to strengthen them. It also serves as a method to try to activate the nerves, which could encourage them to wake them.
“They then harness me upright in a structure that helps hold some of my body weight over a treadmill, while someone on each side helps me move my legs for an hour or so.”
While dealing with his adversity, Swindell,, who also has 30 Xfinity Series start and one Sprint Cup start on his racing resume, is still maintaining a good spirit.
“I can’t say this doesn’t suck, because it does,” he wrote. “Though with the help of my fiancé, family, and a lot of great friends there hasn’t been much that I haven’t been able to do just three and a half months after breaking my back in two places and going through 16 hours of surgery.
“Therapy has now become the closest thing to a job I’ve basically ever had. When I was driving for my dad I had to be at the shop at certain time every day to work on my stuff.”
In addition to therapy, Swindell tries to keep his hand in racing by operating a thriving t-shirt production business.
He’ll will make a rare public appearance this weekend at the PRI motorsports industry trade show in Indianapolis. It will be another form of good therapy for him.
“I’m really looking forward to PRI,” he said. “I’m hoping to spend some time meeting with people to discuss how we can prevent what happened to me from happening to others.
“We’ve spent a lot of time worrying about our necks in Sprint Cars. It’s time to think about our lower back and realize that the driver is truly the only thing there is to give when a car lands flat on the frame the way I did.
“I had every piece of equipment to the newest standards you can get. From a HANS device connected to the best Arai helmet to a full containment Butlerbuilt seat with an insert under me I had everything. Yet one of the softest flips I’ve probably ever taken is the only one that’s ever hurt me.
“I don’t regret any portion of that night. I just hope that we can learn from it and move things forward to try and prevent it from happening to anyone else.”