Steve Wychock

STEVE WYCHOCK, an Ashtabula physical therapist, has had to put all his skills to work to recover from a May crash when a car hit him on his bicycle at a high rate of speed.

ASHTABULA — Rehabilitating sports injuries has been a way of life for Steve Wychock for many, many years.

Little did he know that all that experience would come in handy in a very, personal way.

A lifetime of physical conditioning and athletic achievement may have even saved his life on that fateful day in May.

On May 6 Wychock, owner of Wychock Physical Therapy Inc. in Ashtabula, was riding his bicycle on Tannery Road Hill in Girard, Pa.

Wychock had broken away from a group of 20 riders to return home so his wife could go to a Cleveland Cavaliers playoff game.

He was riding uphill when a car came speeding over the top of the hill right at him.

“I knew I couldn’t get out of the way, he came right across into my lane,” he said.

“I literally saw the under carriage of his car,” he said. Wychock said there was no where to go and the next thing he knew he was hurtling through the air.

“Over the hood, over the windshield and into the culvert,” Wychock said. He said the speed of the vehicle was estimated at 65 to 80 miles per hour.

“When I got smacked I thought my wife, kids and death,” Wychock said.

“I can’t believe I didn’t sever an artery,” Wychock said of the shards of aluminum flew out of the impact site.

As Wychock lay along the side the road. time stood still and parts of the experience remain murky.

He was, however, concious for much of the time and his sports medicine training kicked into high gear.

“When you see an athlete go down on the field you always have to access the injury. I was doing a system check,” he said.

One of the first persons on the scene after the accident was friend, and insurance agent, George Druschell, who made the phone call to Wychock’s wife, Leighann.

That didn’t go well as she was preparing to leave, in 20 minutes, for the playoff game.

For three to four minutes she yelled at Druschell thinking it was one of her husband’s practical jokes.

“I said things that should never come out of a person’s mouth,” she said.

When she heard her husband in the background say ‘I’ll call you from the ambulance,’ the reality of the situation hit home.

The good news was Wychock’s hard work had helped him come away without any internal injuries.

The bad news was he had a compound fracture of the tibia and fibia on his right leg.

Wychock said his helmet saved him from severe head trauma.

“(Otherwise) I’d be here with a drool cup,” Wychock said.

Surgery followed the events and by Thursday he was sent home.

Wychock said he felt shifting in his leg where they had placed a large metal rod. He said the Thursday he went home was the most pain he ever experienced.

The pain was mutual as his wife had to deal with four young children and a husband who could do little.

“I cried for four hours,” she said of the challenge they faced as a family. She had to give him daily stomach injections to ensure blood clots did not occur.

Wychock said he was off pain medicine in a week but the challenges did not abate.

“Home was even worse. I couldn’t get comfortable,” Wychock said.

When he was ready to begin rehabilitation the doctor said he knew just the man for the job.

Steve Wychock.

He said he would let Wychock make the decision but it would be O.K. for him to rehabilitate himself.

Wychock took him up on the offer and has enlisted several friends to help.

“We get together at 6:30 a.m. (at his office) and we do circuit training,” he said.

Wychock is also swimming three times a week and is making his way back.

It is, however, a long trip that will be filled with many more challenges including hip and knee check-ups when his leg becomes weight bearing.

In the meantime he is back to work helping others and hoping he will someday be able to run again.

Wychock wrestled and ran cross country in high school. He experienced the joy of a variety of martial arts and was an avid triathalete.

Weeks before the accident the family had agreed that Wychock would try to qualify for the Boston Marathon this year.

“I was at 20 weeks (of a training program),” Wychock said.

“This (the rehab) is training for the toughest race because I don’t know if I will run again,” he said.

In the meantime a daily regimen of work to increase mobility and maintain strength will keep him busy.

At the same time he hopes to be able to do more with his children; Janet, 8, Riley, 6, Lucas, 4 and Aaron, 8 months.

Wychock is in another race that will hopefully be completed soon.

“The family joke is Aaron is going to be walking before me,” he says.

The race is under way.

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