Andrew Zirzow is an avid bike rider (a previous professional BMX rider and an amateur mountain bike racer) who sustained a C-6/7 spinal cord injury in February of 2017, in a mountain biking accident. For Andrew this was a routine ride through Sycamore Canyon Park in Riverside, when he went headfirst off of a jump after flying from about 10 feet up in the air. Immediately after his injury, Andrew could not move much of anything at all, let alone he did not have the ability to scratch his face, take a drink of water, or feed himself. However, much has changed since then (as he has transitioned from being in a wheelchair full-time to walking with a cane) through very hard work.
In his own words: “This injury truly has been hard to adapt to in regards to having a positive attitude, but because of my support it has resulted in me maintaining optimal positive effort at all times. The facility, the trainers and the clients at The Perfect Step “TPS” have contributed to my positive effort. TPS really is a place of hope and growth.”
After spending two weeks in ICU, then getting transferred to Loma Linda Rehabilitation Hospital and eventually pursuing outpatient care at Casa Colina, Andrew started on his road to recovery. Early on in his recovery, Andrew and his wife, Jennifer, sought out the best care facilities as possible to ensure the closest thing to a full recovery that Andrew could get.
“When I was in inpatient acute care and I had learned about TPS, I dreamed about coming to this place because I knew it was the best possible care that I could get it. I guess dreams do come true. My previous professional career was a chiropractor, so I was exposed to the medical field and knew what intense therapy centers looked like. When I researched TPS, I realized that this was the intense therapy that I needed.”
Andrew believed in the TPS model because of the world class equipment, the knowledgeable trainers and both the techniques and methodologies that we apply onto our clients. “I thought that those key components were superior to everything else that was out there, including facilities in the medical field as well.“
Since starting at TPS in May of 2018, Andrew has seen tremendous gains in his personal care routine, as he has regained the confidence to sit up in the shower and give himself the hygienic care that he personally needs because of his increased core strength. Additionally, he believes that because of his increased confidence and strength, he has been able to pursue different opportunities in the world of adaptive recreational activities, namely cycling and wheelchair rugby. “The trainers have given me a hope and a feeling of continued recovery and they have even helped me get over my fear of driving again.”
Andrew’s short term goals at TPS derive in building on current and future independence. His long-term goal is to re-define a career path, hopefully in the field of chiropractic help. “I am adamant about becoming a productive working member of society again.”
Andrew attributes his wife’s role in his recovery and his life, as being the true backbone in their partnership. “Jennifer truly is my advocate and the backbone of all the progress that I have made.” Additionally, as a man of faith, Andrew has leaned heavily on his church family in regards to their support as something that has got him through this tough time. “My church family stepped up, when other people stepped away. I don’t know where I’d be without them.”
As we mentioned previously, Andrew had a love for bicycle riding. At the age of 16, Andrew turned pro as a BMX rider. In the 1980s, he won several national events and was making a name for himself in the BMX industry. Eventually, Andrew got into amateur mountain bicycle riding and racing, where he went on to win national events in the dual slalom classes. In 2015, Andrew won nationals for dual slalom (a short intense course, with obstacles, tight turns, jumps, which takes high skill) in the 40 to 49 age class (he was 49 when he won this race). Andrew was well on his way to being a big player in the amateur 50+ age class.
While Andrew might not physically be on a mountain bike right now, we know that he is well on his way to achieving his dreams again. He seems to have a new milestones each and every week.