A baby left with a broken neck and paralyzed after being struck by a car has made a miracle recovery through his love of nature, using stunning hikes in the big wide world as a form of physical therapy.
Watson Hofer, now aged four, was injured in October 2019, when his family were out on a daily walk and a distracted driver didn’t see the crosswalk lights and collided into the family’s stroller.
Watson’s older brother was thrown out, while he was pinned inside – but, fortunately, Watson’s mom, Brighton Peachey, 32, from Winslow, Maine, is an EMT, and worked on reviving her unresponsive son, who wasn’t breathing, before an ambulance arrived.
Watson’s most significant injury was the base of his skull separating from his spine, which, in conjunction with his neck break, caused him to lose sensation and movement in the left side of his body.
Over the next few months, the youngster went through many rounds of physical, speech and feeding therapy, with the family celebrating every step of the way: like learning to sit, crawl, walk and talk again.
Once Watson was able to take a few steps, therapists suggested taking him for walks in the great outdoors, as being out in nature could counter stress and anxiety.
At first, Brighton carried Watson, capturing their hikes on video, before allowing Watson to walk along some stunning trails with her and his dad, Michael.
At home, Watson would quickly get bored and frustrated with physical therapy; but being outdoors allowed him to push his body in a natural and interesting environment.
Brighton said: “In addition to learning to walk again, he learned to swallow again and was able to go off his feeding tube just a few weeks after the accident.
“He also learned to talk again and is now full of chatter. He still struggles to keep up with other kids his age, but he has come further than we or the doctors ever expected him to.
“He doesn’t let anything stop him and just tries and tries again – he is currently learning to ride a balance bike and is doing great.
“The response to my son’s journey has been incredible, so many people, including strangers, have reached out to us.
“They’ve shared so much love and support and encouragement and have really been a great reminder how many good people there are in the world.
“His love for the outdoors has continued to grow and now he is the best little hiker and will happily do a few miles.”