Friday, October 2, 2009

CEO Suffers Spinal Cord Injury

Riding his bicycle on a hilltop near his Canandaigua home May 30, Dr. Bradford Berk didn't see any cars coming along the narrow North Vine Valley Road.


But rounding a sharp curve, he suddenly encountered an oncoming car "quite a bit over in my side of the lane," said Berk, speaking publicly Thursday for the first time since he suffered a spinal cord injury. Berk is still on leave from his post as chief of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The car forced him off the pavement, said Berk. "When I got off the road, my bicycle tire blew. As I continued to pedal, I ended up going over the handlebars."

His bicycle helmet protected his head, likely preventing a traumatic brain injury.

The driver of the car immediately came over and — not yet realizing that Berk was unable to move — said, "Did I surprise you?"

Berk's reply: "I think I've broken my neck, so please don't touch me." Berk, who never blacked out, asked the elderly man whether he had a cell phone and asked him to call 911.

"Indeed," said Berk with a wry laugh, "I was surprised by that car."

Berk — usually a fast-talking, brisk-walking executive known for his multi-tasking and impatience — told the story calmly from a motorized wheelchair. He hasn't worn a watch since the accident. He's focused on regaining as much strength and ability as he can.


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