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Back in the Saddle

A day in the life of a Paralympian occupational therapist.

In his job as a senior occupational therapist at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, Bob Whitford helps amputees discover their potential. As an amputee and a bronze medal–winning Olympian himself, he lives to reach and surpass his own.

Bob lost his arm when he was young and was always determined to do as much as he could with what he had. It’s this drive that led Bob to the world of competitive cycling and eventually the Paralympics, where he won the bronze medal for the U.S. team in the Sydney games. Bob has retired from the sport, but in his role at St. David’s, he still uses cycling as a way to help rehabilitate his patients. “It levels the playing field,” he says. This was especially true for Jamie Schanbaum, a recent patient.

"She said, 'I'll never ride a bike again.' I said, 'if you stick with me, in a year or two, you'll be racing a bicycle.'"

Jamie was a student at the University of Texas when she contracted meningitis, eventually losing both legs below the knee and nearly all the digits on her hands. When she and Bob first met, Jamie felt discouraged and thought she would never ride a bike again. But through her work with Bob, Jamie came to understand that she could accomplish more than she ever dreamed. She could still ride a bike – she could even compete professionally!

HCA Heroes

Bob Whitford

Sr Occupational Therapist

St. David's Medical Center
Austin, Texas