Mr. Preston loves outdoor sporting and hopes to return to it, with help from Glen Cove's rehab specialists.

First the crash, then the comeback

After a near-death experience in a car crash, Mike Preston readjusts and rebuilds his life through the Rehabilitation Program at Glen Cove Hospital.

Mike Preston sat in a wheelchair at his East Northport home after a long day on the job, his prosthetic leg recharging in the corner as the TV blared in the background. He attributes the fact that he now feels a sense of normalcy in a life that had been turned inside out and upside down to his own determination and the rehabilitation program at Glen Cove Hospital.

Mr. Preston, 56, a single father of three, was driving home from dinner — less than a mile from his house — when he was involved in a single-car crash in April 2016.

“I nodded off,” said Mr. Preston, a sheet metal welder by trade. “And I hit the guardrail. The car turned over and slid down the guardrail. The guardrail slit the side of the car open.”

First responders cut him free from the mangled wreck and airlifted him to Stony Brook University Hospital. Doctors initially tried to save his left leg — to no avail. Mr. Preston was placed into an induced coma and weeks later awoke to a new reality. He was then transferred to the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Glen Cove Hospital.

“I wasn’t as damaged as everyone else that was in rehab,” said Mr. Preston, whose left leg was amputated above the knee. “For me, it was, ‘Alright, you chopped off a piece of my leg. I’ll learn how to walk again. I’ll do what I’ve got to do.’”

After Mr. Preston spent three weeks in acute rehabilitation, his children showed up to take him home on June 19 — Father’s Day. He had survived a life-altering event and then learned essential skills to navigate his changed world.

“He had to overcome a great deal and was able to achieve a very high level of function in a short period of time due to his hard work and dedication,” said Adrian Cristian, MD, chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Glen Cove Hospital. “He’s been a success at returning to the community and to a life that has meaning for him.”

Glen Cove Hospital’s inpatient program had 980 patients discharged in 2016 and another 8,800 patient visits seeking outpatient rehab, according to Dr. Cristian. The specialists there treat a full range of issues, from those with brain injuries and cancer to amputees and stroke victims. But Glen Cove Hospital does so much more than reboot the body.

Mr. Preston credited the Glen Cove Hospital staff with helping him procure insurance and a wheelchair as well as getting him invaluable information on retrofitting his house, from an entrance ramp to grab bars in the bathroom. That’s why Mr. Preston chose to return to the facility as an outpatient twice a week beginning in September once his prosthetic arrived.

“They are wonderful,” Mr. Preston said of the Glen Cove Hospital staff. “They have the right people to help. Everybody comes in for a specific reason. And they do it well. When I go through there, everybody knows who I am, which is a wonderful thing. They care about their patients.”

Ten months after his near-fatal crash, Mr. Preston is back to work at the family business and still adjusting to his prosthetic device. Walking the aisles at the neighborhood grocery store also counts as a victory. They are steps on the path toward independence.

“I just try to be positive,” he said.

Mr. Preston, an outdoorsman at heart, hopes to someday return to hunt wild turkey upstate and fish for stripers in the Long Island Sound.

“There are some challenges, but he’s really getting around,” Dr. Cristian said. “He’s done very well from our perspective and he’s returned to the community in a positive way.”

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