Kevin Harts Physiotherapy for a Spinal Fracture – Road to Recovery
Comedian Rockstar Kevin Hart has become a global icon over the past few years. His standup comedy shows have attracted millions of individuals, selling out stadiums like Madison Square Garden in a matter of seconds. With massive success in show business, he has also found success in health and fitness. His recent partnership with Nike coordinated 5km runs all around North America where he helped athletes, fans and everyday people crush their fitness goals. However, everything came to a sudden halt on September 19, 2019 when the 40-year-old comedian was involved in a serious car accident.
The accident left Kevin Hart with three fractures to his spine – two thoracic and one lumbar. These spinal fractures are almost always called by trauma and represent a serious orthopedic injury. When asked what had happened during the accident, Kevin said “I can’t tell you nothing about it. Isn’t that scary? The first thing I remember is being in the ambulance with my wife.” Surgeons confirmed that all three vertebrates were later fused during a surgical procedure. Kevin was met with a tidal wave of support and everyone seemed to breathe a sigh of relief once he was released from intensive care. However, many people don’t realize that this was just the start of Kevin’s battle to overcome his injuries.
We spoke with an industry leading physiotherapist who said, based on Kevin Harts injuries and recent footage, it will “likely take him 18 months to two years”. She confirmed that “rehabilitation will be challenging at the best of times but with dedication and commitment to physiotherapy he will be back better than ever.” Most people who suffer a back injury are eager to revisit their regular activities and hobbies, but rushing back into life is not ideal when pain, scar tissue and weak muscles are present. We decided to highlight Kevin Harts physiotherapy and give readers an inside look into the process of spinal fracture rehab.
Phase 1: Stability and Mobility
Phase one of a typical spinal fracture integrates the most basic exercises to bring awareness and stabilization to the body. A physiotherapist will typically begin by working to improve a patients motor control and movements through the use of passive range of motion exercises (PROM). The goal of these exercises is to prevent spasticity. Spasticity occurs when your muscles and joints become tight and stiff, this creates pain, making it difficult to move. With PROM, a physiotherapist will assist you in moving your muscles and joints through the full range of motion. We spoke with one patient that had underwent PROM who said: “the process is incredibly painful, sometimes I felt like giving up but I knew at the end of the day if I didn’t find a way to get through it, I might not walk again”. Kevin put it a little more bluntly when he said “I could not f–king move. I could not wipe my ass.”
Once a physiotherapist sees enough progression, they will introduce self range of motion exercises (SROM). This is similar to PROM, except they are done by the individual alone. These exercises are completed numerous times a day for months, until a patient establishes an acceptable range of motion.
Phase Two – Movement and Strength
Phase two of a typical spinal fracture integrates more comprehensive movements, like walking or putting on your socks. Walking may seem like a simple movement, however, the quadriceps, buttocks, hamstrings, calf, core and a variety of stabilizer muscles are all engaged when walking. Making it a surprisingly very complex motion!
A physiotherapist will work alongside patients, introducing more complex movements like squatting and lunges as the patients improves. It is important to highlight how difficult this process can be, both physically and mentally. This phase is often accompanied by various strengthening exercises, utilizing very light weights. We spoke with a physiotherapist who confirmed that a lot of Kevin Harts rehab was done in a pool. Water aerobics are incredibly beneficial as the activity removes the impact on the joints while allowing for full body resistance. After the first two months Kevin had successful made it through the movement phase and entered the advanced stage of recovery.
Kevin mentioned that he took things day by day “So there I was, hiding in my closet, trying to put my socks on. One morning I got to walk out and declare, ‘I put my socks on!’ Goddamn, that was a big day!”.
Phase Three – Strengthening and conditioning
In phase three, patients are typically back to relativity normal function in which their spine can tolerate weight and standard force. However, that doesn’t mean they are in the clear. Strength and conditioning are very important, and it is during this phase that a physiotherapist will look at progressively strengthening the injured area with banded resistance training, complex movements and weighted exercises. This stage is the longest and sometimes the most frustrating phase for patients. Progress to return to pre-accident function can take years and the task itself can be quite daunting.
As of February1st 2020, Kevin Hart has been heavily involved in phase three of his rehabilitation. Our physiotherapists looked at some of the exercises he was completing “Depending on what’s going on in there, and if their team has gotten the pressure off of the nerves, Kevin is probably in low-grade pain because if he’s doing sports drills like that, he’s probably not in a tremendous amount of pain.” We hope that through sharing Kevin’s progress you are able to get a small glimpse into what rehabilitation might look like for others in similar situations. Kevin left us with one final statement that we think speaks for itself. “It’s a resurrection. That’s the best way for me to put it. I feel like the other version of myself died in that moment and this new version was born to understand and to do better. Sometimes you’re not going to get it when you’re supposed to get it. But when it comes and that light bulb goes off, holy smokes!”