Motorcycle Crash Survivor’s Healing Comes Full Circle
Rob Freyer had ridden more than 100,000 miles without a serious injury. That changed on a November day trip in San Luis Obispo County when his bike collided with a wild animal that darted in front of him. In shock and not realizing his injuries, the 61-year-old got back on his bike and crashed again, flipping over the motorcycle.
The bike’s shift lever nearly took off the big toe of his left foot, and his hands and wrists were severely injured with extensive breaks, fractures and dislocations.
He would rely on Cottage Health’s expert care in many ways on his journey of recovery.
The nearby hospital where he was first taken soon sent him to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where Dr. Robert Ruth operated for five and a half hours on Freyer’s hands, while Dr. William Dunbar simultaneously operated on Freyer’s left foot, which suffered the most traumatic injuries.
His big toe couldn’t be saved, and he was in danger of losing more of his left foot. The staff at Ridley-Tree Center for Wound Management at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, where he was transferred, worked to accelerate the healing process. The center’s medical director, Dr. John Deacon , led the painstaking removal of unhealthy tissue, keeping the foot wounds clean and infection free during regular visits that would continue into spring. In addition, Freyer underwent 15 hyperbaric oxygen treatments at the center over the course of three weeks.
During each oxygen treatment, Fryer reclined in a pressurized chamber, breathing in 12 times more oxygen than normal over the course of nearly two hours, as he slept and even watched TV. “All of that extra oxygen is dissolved in the blood vessels in the lungs, and then the heart pumps the extra oxygen everywhere in your body, including to the end of your foot,” Dr. Deacon explains.
The oxygen boost helped restore the damaged blood vessels in Freyer’s foot, so he didn’t require any additional surgery. He also received nutrition support with a healing diet rich in protein.
He spent a week at Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital, where they taught him to tackle life with casts and a wheelchair. Even then, he started to walk the hallways with help from his 2-year-old granddaughter, and he has continued to regain abilities that allow him to go places on his own, take care of himself and babysit his granddaughter. He expects to regain 90 percent of the use of his hands and left foot and commends the people of Cottage Health for their care and personal attention. “They helped me get on the right path and kept my spirits up.”