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Billings man regains full mobility following motorcycle wreck that rendered him paralyzed

475x285 SVH Wyoming Neuro Hillclimb

Billings, MT - In late-January, 2020 Derek Riddle, 31, crashed his motorcycle while hill climbing in Cowley, Wyoming.

“I broke my neck and was lying there, paralyzed on the hill,” recalled Riddle. “My whole family was there and my stepmom is a registered nurse, so she knew how serious the situation was.”

Big Horn County Search and Rescue responded to the scene and Riddle was flown to St. Vincent Healthcare’s emergency department. Riddle had suffered a C5 spinal cord injury and required emergency spine surgery with St. Vincent neurosurgeon, Dr. Louis Ross.

Riddle’s spinal cord injury was severe. Damage to the C5 spinal cord often results in paralysis of the upper and lower body, known as quadriplegia.

“I was told early on that I might not walk again,” said Riddle. “But I wasn’t going to accept that. I refuse to be hurt. I have things to do, kids to take care of and a life to live.”

It was that attitude which carried Riddle through the next four months of recovery and rehabilitation. Riddle remained hospitalized at St. Vincent Healthcare until February 14 when he was flown to St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington. After 40 days of rehabilitation, Riddle took his first unassisted steps.

“I kept a positive attitude and worked incredibly hard,” explained Riddle. “I was determined to get better.”

His recovery, while remarkable, has been slow and steady. On March 18, Riddle was discharged from St. Luke’s and hasn’t used a wheelchair since April. He still has nerve pain and muscle spasms each morning and can’t feel hot and cold temperatures on his left leg. But the father of three has persevered and to symbolize how far he’d come since his accident, Riddle ran a foot-race in their backyard with his nephew exactly one year following his motorcycle crash.

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come, but I want to be 100-percent,” Riddle admitted. “With that said, I know that not everybody recovers from a C5 spinal cord injury to the extent that I have and I’m incredibly grateful.”

Grateful for his health, his loving family and kids, supportive friends and dedicated care teams.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better surgeon,” said Riddle. “Dr. Ross is awesome.”

SAINTS 2021 to Benefit St. Vincent Neuroscience Center of Excellence

Funds raised through SAINTS 2021 will be dedicated to enhancing and expanding the neurosciences department at St. Vincent Healthcare. Whether someone is affected by headaches and back pain or has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or another neurological condition, the St. Vincent Neuroscience Center of Excellence is able to meet all their specialty care needs. Serving over 16,000 neurological patients each year, the team at St. Vincent is committed to customizing each patient’s care plan to give them peace of mind and support as they navigate their treatment and therapies. The Neuroscience Campaign, funded in part by SAINTS 2021, will support several clinic and program enhancements such as a remodel of the Neuroscience Center and construction of a state-of-the-art Multiple Sclerosis Infusion Center. Both projects will increase capacity, comfortability, access to care and technology.

SAINTS 2021 will be held outdoors at Camelot Ranch on Friday, July 30. The evening of celebration will include food, drinks, and live music. Space is limited and the event is sold out.

On Thursday, July 29 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. the St. Vincent Foundation will host a SAINTS 2021 “Day of Giving” as a way for associates and community members to support the cause. Gifts over $1K will be announced the evening of SAINTS.

About SCL Health

SCL Health is a faith-based, nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to improving the health of the people and communities we serve. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in 1864, our health network provides comprehensive, coordinated care through eight hospitals, more than 180 physician clinics, home health, hospice, mental health, and safety-net services in Colorado and the Montana Wyoming region.