“We got T-boned,” Rotella explained to Menshealth.com. “When I woke up, I knew everything hurt really bad.”
At the hospital, doctors informed him he broke his neck at the C3, C4, C5, C6, and C7 vertebrae. He fractured his back in several locations, broke his pelvis “in half,” as he put it, and deflated his right eyeball.
“I put my hands in front of my face, started moving my toes and asked if I was paralyzed,” he said. “I was really lucky that I wasn’t.”
Rotella was sent into a deep depression, which he now carries in the form of PTSD.
Just one week after the accident, Rotella was sent home with a neck brace, a new cadaver bone in his neck, and an eye patch. According to him, his eye still works, but he says it’s like “seeing underwater.”
After six weeks staying in bed, Edward got back to work. He got a job at an auto parts store. Everything doing there he considered as an extra important activity.
“I stayed active, I used everything I could around me to exercise,” he said. “I would pick up rotors, and they’re about 25 pounds each. So every time I’d walk back I would use them to exercise.” He’d walk about 1,200 steps a day, which less than a year after his injury was a massive achievement.
Prior to the accident, Rotella trained Muay Thai, but unfortunately, now he couldn’t perform the movements anymore.
The only way to recover he saw in the gym workouts. He built out a small home gym, borrowed his dad’s old Bowflex, and got to work. Eight months after his injury, Rotella was ready to start a regular workout routine outside of his workplace.
Today, Rotella has four weekly Bowflex workouts, lasting about an hour each time. Ed focuses on different body parts each day. He also takes twice-daily walks outside.
During walks, he usually stops to perform calisthenics to keep his outdoor adventures interesting. What is more, he often wears ankle weights and hand weights.
Rotella, now 30 years old, said he’s “definitely stronger than I’ve ever been right now.” He added, “I feel that my potential is limitless because I choose it to be. I can’t pursue the MMA anymore, I can’t ride roller coasters anymore, but I can still go and jump off cliffs all summer long.”
“I feel that my potential is limitless because I choose it to be.”