Pedro Pimenta: Quadruple Amputee Walks Again After Overcoming Bacterial Meningitis
At 18, Pedro Pimenta lost all four limbs to bacterial meningitis. He thought his life was over and that he’d never be independent again, but he refused to let that be his story. Through hard work and determination, he regained his independence with the help of prosthetic technology and the power of peer support.
In 2009, Brazilian Pedro Pimenta was a typical 18-year-old enjoying school, sports, and social activities when he contracted bacterial meningitis. He was given little chance to survive. His only chance to save his failing organs was amputation of his arms above-the-elbows and legs above-the-knee.
“I woke up from a coma with a completely different life. At first, I couldn’t even sit up by myself because my muscles had atrophied after spending six months in a hospital bed.”
Doctors told him he would never walk again and after months of rehabilitation, Pedro was almost convinced of it himself. But despite it all, he was determined to learn all he could about prosthetics. “I had no idea what the prosthetic world was all about,” he said.
Pedro began attending conferences for amputees to learn more, and it was at one such conference that he met Hanger Clinic’s Vice President of Prosthetics, Kevin Carroll, MS CP, FAAOP/D, who offered Pedro words of encouragement and provided his contact information. It wasn’t until sometime later when Pedro was in Chicago getting fitted with prosthetic arms that he made the decision to call Carroll.
“I was having a very difficult time, so I decided to give Hanger Clinic a try. It was going to be my last shot. I was getting tired and starting to convince myself that my future was in a wheelchair and with limited independence.”
After speaking with Carroll, Pedro traveled to San Diego to attend the Challenged Athletes Foundation triathlon.
Soon after, Pedro went to Oklahoma City to participate in Hanger Clinic’s Bilateral Above-Knee Amputee Bootcamp, which changed his life. The activities and speakers at Bootcamp motivated Pedro to give up his wheelchair and begin using his prosthetic components.
“It took a lot of energy and a lot of effort, but it was possible,” Pedro said.
With his new mobility, Pedro moved to Florida to attend college. He graduated in 2016 from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in business economics. During this time, he also became a patient ambassador for Hanger Clinic and attended many amputee and prosthetic conferences.
Today, Pedro lives independently in Florida, travels worldwide, drives a vehicle without adaptations, finished a 5K triathlon race and is pursuing his previous passion of snowboarding. He has not used a wheelchair since Bootcamp in 2010.
Pedro is also a Community Care Coordinator at Hanger Clinic, providing peer-to-peer interaction and support for amputees, and travels the country as a motivational speaker. Using his own personal experiences, he delivers a powerful message to never give up.
“The first two months after an amputation are the worst, because it is so difficult and can be so discouraging. I was literally giving all my energy to walk 10 steps. To walk through a mall, a college campus, or an airport, I had to give everything and push myself hard,” he said.
“I tell amputees, give everything and make it a goal to not use a wheelchair those first two months. If your legs are amputated or if you are missing arms, put your prostheses on when you wake up and only take them off at night. That is your full-time job to wear those prosthetics for two months. Once you break that first threshold, you are going to be stronger mentally and physically.”
Through his words, actions, and attitude, Pedro inspires others to draw on their inner strength and the knowledge that they have the power to overcome any situation in life. Watch his inspiring TEDx Talk in his native language, Portugese.
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