It all happened so fast. Dale McDowell, can’t remember all the details of the accident at his workplace. But it’s a day he’ll never forget.
|Dale with therapist Jennifer Benoit.|
Dale, 53, prides himself on his work ethic and until this past October- his safety record.
“You don’t think it’s going to happen to you,” he explains.
In an instant a 1,000 pound table fell on his left foot. The tremendous force crushed his foot- breaking bones and resulting in tissue loss.
Dale was rushed to a hospital in northern Oakland County where a medical team discussed possibly amputating his foot.
Because of the severity of his injuries, he was transferred to Beaumont’s Level I Trauma Center  in Royal Oak. The facility is the only Level I Trauma Center in Oakland and Macomb counties and one of nine to earn the highest designation for trauma care in Michigan.
Recalls Gregory Nowinski, M.D. , orthopedic trauma surgeon, “Dale had multiple open fractures, torn tendons, nerves and blood vessels.”
The Oct. 19 accident dramatically changed Dale’s life. The hard working, Madison Heights resident who often worked six days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, wasn’t going back to work for a long time. Nor would he be walking his 50 pound dog Buster, cutting the lawn or driving his car soon.
It wasn’t until later that he learned about the discussion of amputation at the other hospital. The thought of what “could have happened” still haunts Dale.
Adds Dr. Nowinski, “With the expertise of our trauma team, we’re able to save limbs.”
|Dale sheds his walking boot.|
The doctor acknowledged that Dale’s injuries were severe enough that staff at other hospitals might not have been able to save his foot.
Dale remained in the hospital for 24 days. In order to repair his crushed foot, he underwent six surgeries- four orthopedic procedures with Dr. Nowinski and two with Samuel Mucci, M.D. , a plastic surgeon. Dr. Nowinski used pins, rods and screws to straighten his foot. Dale also had to wear a halo-like device, called an external fixator, for 60 days. Because of the significant tissue loss, Dr. Mucci utilized a muscle from his abdomen, reconnecting that muscle to blood vessels in his leg with a microscope.
Therapy: Step by Step
Before the accident, Dale kept fit by living an active lifestyle and working out at home. After the accident, he had one goal- to walk. In January he began physical therapy  at the Beaumont Health Center  in Royal Oak with therapist Jennifer Benoit.
Recalls Jennifer, “When Dale started therapy he was in a wheel chair and told me nearly in tears, ‘I want to be able to walk again.’“
She soon learned how much he wanted to walk. For four months he’s worked tirelessly, step by step progressing from wheel chair to walker to crutches to a plastic molded boot- three days per week, 60 minutes in the gym and 30 minutes in the therapy pool.
Jennifer admires his spirit and work ethic. She explains, “I’m very blessed to have him as a patient. His progress is very heart-warming. Dale accepts challenges and is highly motivated. It’s been neat to be part of his team of caregivers.”
Just this week Dale got some good news. He can discard that plastic walking boot and wear two shoes again.
Summing up his gratitude he says, “I can’t say enough good things about Beaumont. My medical team has been excellent. Everyone has been great- doctors, nurses, therapists. Along with my medical team, I’m very grateful to my wife Joyce of 28 years. Her support, love and patience are appreciated. Thank you!”