“One thing is true: You will face adversity your whole life. You can quit or you can stand up and keep moving forward.” Those are the words of 18-year-old Daquan Minor, who suffered a fractured skull and a T-6 incomplete spinal cord injury in an auto accident in February 2013. Two years later, he was a key contributor to the 2015 TIRR junior Hotwheels win of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s National Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.
For Minor, the road to the championship was paved with hard work. Transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann after three weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Minor remained an inpatient for a month. During that time, he was fitted with a thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO), a two-piece plastic brace supporting the spine from the thoracic vertebrae of the chest to the base of the spine at the sacrum. The brace helped him stand for the first time.
“My No. 1 question was always would I walk again,” Minor says. “No one could say yes or no. I had to wait and see over time. Therapy was so hard, in part because I had so many restrictions due to the brace. Toward the end of my stay I could wriggle my toes.”
During that first hospitalization, a recreational therapist stopped by to ask him if he was interested in sports. When he said he’d played football and basketball, she asked him if he’d be interested in wheelchair basketball.
“At first I said no because I really wanted to be out of the wheelchair,” he recalls. “After a couple of months I went out and watched the Hotwheels practice and it looked like an exciting sport. I came back a couple of weeks later and practiced with them, and over time I picked up the game.”
After discharge from TIRR Memorial Hermann, Minor continued therapy at TIRR Memorial Hermann Adult and Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation at the Kirby Glen Center. There, he used a functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike to stimulate muscle groups in his legs and trunk. When he had regained enough strength to continue inpatient therapy without the TLSO, he returned to TIRR Memorial Hermann, where he worked on standing and other skills he needed to regain his independence. After discharge, he returned to Kirby Glen for outpatient therapy.
Minor played two full seasons with the Hotwheels – fall to spring in 2013-14 and 2014-15. “Playing with the Hotwheels kept me active and allowed me to meet people with the same disability I had, which really helped me with what I was going through at the time,” he says. “I made friends, and over time we became more than friends – like brothers.”
The Hotwheels went into the 2013 season as No. 1 in the nation, but lost the championship in 2014. “So we started the 2014 season really wanting to retake the championship. We put in a lot of hard work. Winning it was very exciting for all of us.”
A 2015 graduate of Summer Creek High School in Humble, Minor will continue his education at Lone Star Community College, where he’ll enter the emergency medical technician degree program. His goal: to work as a dispatcher for Memorial Hermann Life Flight®.
“When I look back, my experience at TIRR Memorial Hermann was a good one, but it was also really hard,” says Minor, who has gone from paraplegia to being able to walk short distances without his wheelchair. “Success takes hard work and dedication. It’s a good feeling when you know you’ve done your best.”
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For the 31st consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 3 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.Learn More