SCHENECTADY - Mason Hamilton of Warrensburg settled into a wheelchair after taking off his leg braces with the help of a physical therapist nurse.
Minutes earlier, Hamilton had walked about 30 feet, back and forth, in Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital in Schenectady, with the help of a walker. He's been there for about three weeks, following a stay at Albany Medical Center, where he underwent major surgery to reconstruct his sping after shattering his spine in a crash during warm-up laps for a snowmobile race Feb. 6 on Echo Lake.
"This was a workout," Hamilton said. "It feels good to be back amongst the standing."
"Nice job," the Sunnyview therapist responded.
Hamilton explains his therapy routine as he wheels back to his room. The walking practice occurs in the morning, and "Occupational Therapy," or learning how to get from a bed or mat into a wheelchair, is offered in the afternoon.
"All this is to develop my balance, which is difficult without feeling in my legs or controlling their movement," he said. "It's amazing how quickly you pick up how using a wheelchair - I've been in it about three weeks but I'm getting pretty savvy to it."
Not only is he achieving mobility, but his body is beginning to heal, regaining some of the control in his legs that he lost in the crash.
He looks down at his thigh, and makes his right quadracep twitch, then smiles broadly.
"It's minimal, but it's a start," he said. "Any improvement, as small as they seem, are forward progress - I'll take it and keep going."
His solid improvement in mobility, plus the immense support he's gotten from family and friends, are leading to the expectation that he'll be home soon, perhaps as soon as Friday. In the meantime, he's got 1,026 friends on Facebook checking into his progress, waiting for intermittent messages from Hamilton.