Rick Ybarra

Determination, positivity and a strong support system helped Rick Ybarra recover from a right leg amputation.

Strength is more than a physical trait according to Rick Ybarra. When faced with the unexpected amputation of his right leg, Rick learned it was a strong mind that allowed him to get back to his life.

Rick was working at a recycling center when a 27,000 pound container dropped on his legs. He was able to get his left leg free, but not his right. After emergency services picked him up, the next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital after surgery to save his limb. Unfortunately, the physicians soon realized that it was not possible and Rick would need an amputation.

Rick expected an amputation below his knee, but that was not possible. To save Rick’s life, the physicians needed to amputate much higher than expected. When Rick woke up from surgery, he was angry and frustrated. Rick has never cried much in his life, but this time, Rick cried.

Rick spent over a week in the hospital before he chose to go to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital for intense therapy. Rick wanted to get his life back.

One of the first things Rick was determined to do was go to the bathroom without assistance. Rick recalled the support of Isaiah, one of his physical therapists. “He believed in me,” Rick said. “He knew I could do it.” And he did within three days. That was Rick’s first step in getting his life back.

“I had to learn how to do everything over again,” Rick said. Rick’s wife, Candy, added: “we taking walking for granted.”

The combination of Rick’s strong mind and the expertise of his therapy and nursing teams would produce great results. After several weeks in the hospital, Rick returned home with his wife. Rick continued with outpatient rehabilitation at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. While his first prosthetic was a “dinosaur” according to Rick, “it felt so good to stand up again.” Even after a year, the therapy team continues to work with Rick to assist him in getting his independence back.

Rick attributes his success to being positive and not secluding himself. “Anyone going through this is bound to have ups and downs,” he said. “It is a different path for life, but one that can be positive if you listen to your therapists and have a strong mind. Don’t quit!”

The support of Rick’s family has been key to his success. They each showed their support by getting a tattoo of a bear claw. The bear claw signifies the strength that Rick had to overcome his injury.

Rick now has a new prosthetic with a custom Raiders logo on it to replace the tattoo from his amputated limb. Rick is able to drive again and has returned to activities he used to do alone. His strong mind got him where he is now, saying, “I can do it!”