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Chapter 1: Kevin Swindell in His Own Words

At physical therapy with my daughter, Zoe.

At physical therapy with my daughter, Zoe.

So I guess I’ll begin this first blog with exactly where my life currently is.

You could say I’m semi-paralyzed from the waist down. I can voluntarily kick both legs outward to a straight position. I can also lock out my knees enough to stand with a walker. I haven’t gotten any movement back in my ankles or feet to this point, but the doctors and therapists say that the upper leg comes back before the lower.

Right now I go to therapy for two hours, three days a week. I also just added an extra hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays to try and get as much as I can.

I spend 30 minutes or so standing with the help of my therapist. They place electrode pads on each muscle group of my legs. This helps them contract to strengthen them. It also serves as a method to try to activate the nerves, which could encourage them to wake them.

swindell_120715cThey then harness me upright in a structure that helps hold some of my body weight over a treadmill, while someone on each side helps me move my legs for an hour or so.

I can’t say this doesn’t suck, because it does. Though with the help of my fiancé, family, and a lot of great friends there hasn’t been much that I haven’t been able to do just three and a half months after breaking my back in two places and going through 16 hours of surgery.

Therapy has now become the closest thing to a job I’ve basically ever had. When I was driving for my dad I had to be at the shop at certain time every day to work on my stuff. Past that I’ve been blessed to be in situations where I haven’t had to be on a five day a week schedule.

I’m really looking forward to heading to PRI in Indianapolis this week. I’m hoping to spend some time meeting with people to discuss how we can prevent what happened to me from happening to others.

We’ve spent a lot of time worrying about our necks in Sprint Cars. It’s time to think about our lower back and realize that the driver is truly the only thing there is to give when a car lands flat on the frame the way I did.

I had every piece of equipment to the newest standards you can get. From a HANS device connected to the best Arai helmet to a full containment Butlerbuilt seat with an insert under me I had everything. Yet one of the softest flips I’ve probably ever taken is the only one that’s ever hurt me.

I don’t regret any portion of that night. I just hope that we can learn from it and move things forward to try and prevent it from happening to anyone else.

Kevin Swindell will be submitting regular blogs here at OneDirt.com to keep everyone updated on his progress and thoughts. Also, please check out his online racing store at www.vintageracetees.com.


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  • December 8, 2015 at 8:29 am

    This is a strong young man. God bless you and pray for your recovery.

    Reply
  • Becky Young says:
    December 8, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Kevin, my son has driven a sprint for 19 years and while I trust his skill, it is still scary. I just wanted to tell you that I spent only a month in rehab last year because of brain surgery and I was SO ready to get out of there after only a month! But I had a wonderful result – from being unable to turn over in bed or even sit up to a normal life, no deficits that I can see. I pray that the same thing happens for you, even though the mechanics of our respective injuries are so different.

    You have zillions and zillions of prayers going up every day and I know that will work for you!

    Reply
  • December 8, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Get well soon and in our prayers from the entire RACE CAHTTER NATION, Wayne

    Reply
  • December 8, 2015 at 9:56 am

    chatter not cahtter

    Reply
  • Tracy Clark says:
    December 8, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Tough guy. Thank you for the fight for safety in the cars. Keep it up you can do this.

    Reply
  • Bobby vrncis says:
    December 8, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Dear kevin let me tell you in short
    Back in 1998 I to broke my back in a snowmobile accident t12burst fracture with 60% spinal cord compression.I was told probably wouldn’t wslk again .I also had paralysis from the waist down .I also worked very hard to recover from this injury .I also am a racecar driver.my physical therapist told me if I was willing to work hard at walking again that he would help me . today I am walking again and I also ride snowmobiles . so I say to you keep up the good work .and have faith in yourself.I to have a very caring family that helped me along the way to my recovery .I know some days are very frustrating. However never give up a nd you to will walk again .best of luck my friend sincerely Bobby vencis

    .

    Reply
  • Diane and Kaylah says:
    December 8, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Keep up the good work Kevin. We will be watching for updates and progress reports. You can do this!! Glad to hear you see past the tragedy of that night and see the difference you can make in the future.

    Reply
  • Ed Miller says:
    December 8, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Fortunately, I can only imagine. The ‘mind’ seems to be healing just fine……….(green flag!).

    Kevin, I’ve attached a vid (my most current) to introduce you to RECUMBENT TRIKES. If you dig deep enough you’ll also find few vids shot on the Brickyard (Tour de Cure each June), not to mention touring around Nashville, TN. Hey………, works great on the smile!

    Let me know if I maybe of help (Sevierville, TN) or if you’d like a test ride. Warning……, it’s NON-WINGED (but it has one of my canopies)! Mend well. Ed

    Reply
  • Al Stay says:
    December 8, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Swindells are as tough and fierce as they come. Thinking of you and sending positive vibes your way. Always a fan of your dad / Jeff/ you and can tell your just like Sammy and your grandpa . God bless you and hope your recovery matches the inspiration you give others as you rehab.

    Reply
  • Mark says:
    December 8, 2015 at 10:35 am

    hoping you have a full recovery and can get back on the track!

    Reply
  • December 8, 2015 at 10:36 am

    I speak a complete healing over your whole body Kevin in Jesus Name ….My prayers to you and your family. ..

    Reply
  • Jodi Burian says:
    December 8, 2015 at 10:38 am

    I am praying for a full recovery. It takes time and patience and a great mind set. Just remember you have all your fans praying for you.

    Reply
  • Sue Thomas says:
    December 8, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Thank you Kevin, Justin has been keeping me updated but this blog will be great! Our entire family has you and your family in our prayers! BulldogStrong!

    Reply
  • December 8, 2015 at 10:58 am

    best wishes on your continuing therapy & recovery kevin! much love from your cousins in memphis

    Reply
  • December 8, 2015 at 10:59 am

    So impressed with your positive attitude. Keep that up and you will beat all the odds! Really love that you are working to see what can be done to prevent this. We will continue to pray for you.

    Reply
  • Tom Osmond says:
    December 8, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Hi Kevin,

    I’m a friend, old Navy buddy, of Tommy Dale Brooks, one of your big fans. I kind of know what you’re going through because I suffered a broken neck in the Navy while on the USS Saratoga with T Dale. Fortunately, when I fractured C-1 and C-2 I didn’t suffer any paralysis, but I did go through a lot of grueling therapy. Keep your spirits up and know that all the hard work will pay off. You will walk on your own again Kevin, believe in that!!!

    One suggestion I have to help prevent further injuries like yours is to mount the seat in a way that it compresses 4 strong springs, so that when the car lands on it’s wheels the impact is lessened by the spring compression and travel. Capture the lower ring of the springs on a steel plate and use another steel plate to mount the seat to and mount that to the upper ring of the springs.

    Most likely, someone has already thought of this and is experimenting with the idea, but then again, maybe not. :-)

    In any case, I’ll be following your progress occasionally to see how you’re doing. I know you have much support from the network of family, friends and fans alike. Keep the faith!!!

    Until next time,

    God Bless and have a Merry Christmas,

    Tom Osmond

    Reply
  • Shane weeks says:
    December 8, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Stay strong my friend all of us at the weeks house are praying every night for you. Mom and dad are always asking about how your doing and your progress.

    Reply
  • judy says:
    December 8, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Still praying for you here in NW Florida. God bless you in this new journey in your life. So glad to have seen this – now I know some more of your story.

    Reply
  • Valerie says:
    December 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Kevin,
    It is so good to see the progress you are making. It may not feel like much from day to day, but in the long run, your efforts will add up. A good friend of ours broke his back in a skiing accident, and went through months of rehab, so I’ve seen first hand just how much work goes into it. Hang in there and keep pushing. I’ll continue to pray for a complete recovery.
    God bless!

    Reply
  • Philip says:
    December 8, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Kevin you have got this stay Bull Dog Strong and keep up all of your hard work it will pay off . Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas !!!! Prayers going your way everyday from Memphis TN.

    Reply
  • Sheri says:
    December 8, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    So awesome to see how far you have come. Prayers for a full recovery. It would be so neat to hear about you walking down the aisle with your bride. You go guy. Be strong!

    Reply
  • Ryan Gillespie says:
    December 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Inspiring!

    Reply
  • December 8, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Hang in there Kevin it is so good to see how hard you are working to regain your strength. It seems you can never keep racing totally safe. I hope that your strength, your daughter and fiance will keep your spirits high. I have enjoyed your racing many years and your dads racing since he was very young. Me and my husband will always be swindell fans all the way. I will continue to remember you and your family in my prayers. God speed.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers for you and Jordan, and your family. We miss seeing you and the boys. Let us know if we can do anything.

    Reply
  • Ncrdbl1 says:
    December 8, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    With you and your dad working on the problem i am sure you can find a solution to the lower back issues. Sammy has done some out of the box engineering in these cars and i am sure the apple does not fall far from the tree.

    Reply
  • Rick says:
    December 8, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Kevin I know as you stated it sucks trying to recover and going through all the therapies and procedures. I pray for you Kevin and I know when you look at your beautiful daughter Zoe you can draw strength from her love as well as other family and friends that wish you well again. God Bless you Kevin and never give up. I raced sprinters many moons ago and am now 60 yrs old and have had two back surgeries L-4 AND L-5 lower back and could not walk for a while. Second surgery did wonders as well as prayer and family support. Sincerely wish you well.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Thoughts and prayers go out to you and your entire family. Praying for your speedy recovery.

    Reply
  • Bryan Hemman says:
    December 8, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Kevin, it gets better. I broke my neck and my back in a Modified Midget on August 17, 2013. I caught a right rear, flipped in the air, over the catch fence and landed almost flat on the frame. It was a Saturday night. By Sunday afternoon I was wearing a HALO Vest that would stay on for 3 1/2 months. It took them almost a week to realize that I had broken my Coccyx that was crushed where all the nerve roots run to go down my legs. I spent 7 weeks in bed rest, unable to sit up. Then, finally, the therapy started. And as you said “it sucked”. But again, it gets better. I eventually went home in my wheelchair. Then was able to shower on my own and dress myself. I eventually was able to walk on my own without the use of a walker. I am now back to work and can even run and lift things! I still have nerve damage and numbness in my legs and fingers, but it gets better. There are days when the pain still sucks, but it has gotten better. Every day it gets better. I even got back in my race car for a play day this year! It was great! Keep working hard because it gets better.

    Reply
  • Kim Goss says:
    December 8, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Kevin I have always been a Swindell fan and thats never going to change. I’very watched your dad and then you and followed both careers,I am proud to say that because you are such an amazing person!The world knows about the driving abilities but your attitude and strength after going through this terrible accident just show your determination and strength and why you are BULLDOG STRONG! Prayers for you and yours and my wish for Christmas is daily improvement for you!

    Reply
  • December 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Kevin – Prayers for your recovery

    Reply
  • Danny Rowe says:
    December 9, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Hang in there Kevin. You’ve a whole lot of people praying for you. It may not be easy but, you can do it ! God Bless ! You and yours !

    Reply
  • mike murray says:
    December 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Just thinking about you and am proud of all of your hard work as you get better. I use to be a rep.for Chnnellock and sat next to you at the banquet in Las Vegas where your dad got his trophy for winning the World Of Outlaws series.

    Mike Murray, Ocean Springs, Ms.

    Reply
  • December 9, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Kevin, Our wishes and prayers go out to you and your entire family. We can’t imagine how tough it must be recovering from a injury like the one you experienced. Please never give up the faith and it sounds like you are making great progress. We really liked watching you at the Chili Bowl. Again all the very best wishes and we hope you all have a Very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful Holiday Season.

    Reply
  • Rick Lee says:
    December 17, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Kevin, I have enjoyed watching you come up the racing scene. I seen you first at the Gold Cup when you were a little kid running around. Things happen in life, but the good Lord is looking over you. From the night of the accident my whole prayers have been with you, Sammy, and Amy. The Swindells have been such a big part of racing. I seen the pictures of you on the treadmill, stay strong, keep the faith, and always know you have many people praying for you. Have a good Merry Christmas to the Swindell Family.

    Reply
  • January 6, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    BULLDOG STRONG !!!

    Reply
  • bo maner says:
    January 12, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    KEVIN, I WISH YOU WELL AND I HOPE YOU CAN WALK AND POSSIBLEY RACE AGAIN. LIKE YOUR DAD, YOU ARE AWESOME! BO MANER

    Reply
  • Jim Weirich says:
    January 17, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Kevin,
    37 years ago I suffered a SCI, L1,L2 cauda equina injury. Partial Paralysis anything that would touch a saddle was numb. Today I can walk not normal but it gets the job done. It does get better you learn to adjust. One mistake I made was to have tendon transfer surgery on my right ankle, a simple ankle brace would of been a better decision. Lots of things I have to do different now to live as normal as possible. Had lots of corrective surgeries Great Doctors,Nurses,Therapists wonderful understanding employer. I’m Praying for you and your family, if ever you want to talk contact me.
    Jim

    Reply
  • Ja kie says:
    January 19, 2016 at 3:20 am

    Hi Kevin
    I hope you are making lots of progress and feeling better.I know it is a long long road .prayers for a full recovery God bless Kevin swindell may he be back at the track in a timely manner

    Reply
  • jb02491 says:
    January 23, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Suggestion or guidelines for sprint car seat. This is also a problem in Indy cars as well. I think you need to go to an all belts to seat design to start with. Mounting the belts to a safety pod addresses the fundamental problem of seats belt tension changing if the seat is allowed to move vertically during the type impact you sustained. This capsule can then be attached to the frame through vertical rods and/or hinged joints. to prevent movement except during a crash, breakaway system similar to what is in passenger car steering columns could work (sized appropriately).

    Reply
  • Bob Hurley says:
    April 18, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Kevin – I wish you the very best. I have been a fan since the 1980s watching your dad. I got a kick out of watching your mother Amy carrying you around on her hip. Ironically I was at Knoxville when the crash occurred. That night I decided to go from the pits up into the stands just before the races started. I was sitting exactly in front of the fence where you crashed. I read your posts saying that it was such a mild crash comparatively speaking – I have to disagree – it was very violent with the car spinning around before slamming down on the wheels. I was immediately concerned, particularly when they blocked the view with the sheets. I was so worried as I saw your father pacing around. Anyway, thanks for all of the updates. I know you’ll keep up the necessary work required to jump start the nerves. Stay strong and good luck!

    Reply
  • Pam Kubart says:
    April 18, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Kevin how are you doing.

    Reply

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