The nation was shaken by the Pulse Orlando tragedy on June 12 as news and social media coverage shared glimpses into the terror of a mass shooting at the nightclub. Victims were introduced as new details were broadcast over the next two weeks. What would follow for the wounded survivors, once the nation was no longer watching, was months of work as they faced the physical challenges of recovery.
Angel Santiago was one survivor who narrowly dodged the attacker by sheltering himself in a bathroom. At 2:30 a.m. he decided to escape by crawling out, his left foot and right knee wounded from shots fired. Little did he know, the shooter was still alive in the next bathroom. Angel was treated for his injuries at a local hospital then transferred to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Altamonte Springs on June 27 for physical therapy. At the time, Angel had not walked since before the shooting and was non-weight bearing. His goal—to walk again.
Over the next 10 days, Angel participated in intensive physical and occupational therapy. Through strength, balance and endurance training, Angel was able to regain strength and relearn how to do everyday tasks such as sitting down, standing, getting out of the bed and climbing stairs. On July 7, Angel walked out of HealthSouth Altamonte Springs with the assistance of crutches. Inspired by his experience with the nurses he met during his recovery, Angel has set a new goal to attend nursing school so he can also help others in need.
“I want to thank the staff at HealthSouth Altamonte Springs for treating me with respect and compassion during my stay at their facility,” said Angel. “I appreciate the time and effort it took on everyone's part to make sure I was comfortable and received the treatment needed in order to regain the independence I lost after sustaining injuries on the night of the Pulse attack. Everyone I interacted with during my time at the hospital was wonderful. I'd like to thank the staff from administration, techs, nurses, physical and occupational therapists and everyone in between for their hard work.”