Injured NDSU student returns to school
By the time Kshitij Ladage gets home from a full day of classes at North Dakota State University, he's too tired to think about partying. It's hard enough finding the strength to write a sentence. The NDSU sophomore suffered a severe spinal cord ...
By the time Kshitij Ladage gets home from a full day of classes at North Dakota State University, he's too tired to think about partying.
It's hard enough finding the strength to write a sentence.
The NDSU sophomore suffered a severe spinal cord injury last Thanksgiving weekend when the van he and six other students from India were riding in hit an icy patch on Interstate 94.
Ladage and four others were ejected from the van as it slid off the road and rolled.
"I was told in the beginning, this is it. It was a very high injury. The doctors couldn't even tell if anything would come back," he said.
After an eight-hour surgery and months of physical therapy, Ladage - who goes by the nickname "T.J." - is back at NDSU pursuing a biotechnology degree.
A motorized wheelchair carts his thin frame to class. He lacks the strength in his arms and fingers to write more than one sentence at a time, so a transcriber takes notes for him. In his immunology and serology lab, his lab partner takes the readings that require fine hand movements.
"Right now I can walk almost two blocks, but I get tired really soon," he said, sitting on his bed in a handicapped-accessible dorm room in Pavek Hall.
Despite his physical limits, Ladage said he didn't want to waste another semester away from NDSU. Doctors also advised him to return to his school routine to keep his spirits up, said his mother, Udaya Ladage. She has been by her son's side since January and is happy and relieved to see him improving, she said.
"When I sent him (to NDSU) from India, I thought that we'd only come for his graduation," she said.
Ladage, a soft-spoken, humble 20-year-old, said he owes thanks to his professors, the NDSU offices of International Programs, Residence Life and Disability Services, the Association of Students from India, his doctors and physical therapists, and his friends and family for helping him recover and make the transition back to school.
Physically, he still has a long road ahead, he said. When he first started therapy, he was showing improvement every week. Now, he can complete a new task about every two weeks, he said.
"It's going to take some time, but it keeps on coming," he said.
While his daily class routine has changed considerably, Ladage said his social life is basically the same, with one exception.
"Since Mom's around, I have to be like the good kid, so the party thing has cut down a bit," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528