Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

Rachel's Story

No Mountain High Enough

My name is Rachel and my accident happened May 13, 2018, which also happened to be Mother’s Day. While riding an electric rentable scooter in downtown Nashville, my friend and I were hit by a car. I suffered a traumatic brain injury and I aspirated, which caused multiple lung issues. My friend suffered a compound fracture of her tibia/fibula and a slight concussion. My friend and I were in Nashville to watch another friend ref a soccer game, so I fortunately went to Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), and they provided excellent medical care for me. Unfortunately, because I was placed in an “induced coma” and I had a TBI, I do not remember anything regarding my medical care at VUMC. My family told me the physicians and nursing staff on the Trauma and Intensive Care Units were very caring, answered many questions about my medical condition and were upfront regarding my situation and long-term outcome. I also developed a deep vein thrombosis in my leg, and they had to put a filter in my Inferior Vena Cava in case part of it broke off. I was and still am, a physical therapist at The University of Tennessee Medical Center, so I have a different perspective on therapy and I definitely saw a different side of things. After I was discharged from Vanderbilt, I went to Select Medical Center, a Long Term Acute Care (LTAC) facility in Knoxville, TN. I went there because I was not yet ready for inpatient rehab and it was more convenient for my parents. There, I started opening my eyes and talking and even took my first steps with my physical therapist. My parents brought my dog Henley to see me and I remember that, but not much else. I had great support from my coworkers and my friends while I was at Select.  After two weeks at Select, I went to Shepherds Center in Atlanta for therapy. They too were absolutely great. For the first two weeks, I don’t really remember much. However, the day I took my first shower, washed my hair for the first time and had my plugged trach removed, a light flipped. All of a sudden, I was more like myself again.  In therapy, I was extremely challenged. With speech I worked on cognitive skills, getting off thickened liquids, and improving my memory. Because my swallowing improved, I started on a regular diet. During occupational therapy, I mainly worked on strengthening the right side of my body, specifically my arm and leg.  They are getting a lot better, but still have some ways to go. With physical therapy, at first I worked on walking and stamina, then I got to a point where we mostly just worked on strength and balance. When I graduated from Shepherds, they let me pick a song for my graduation. I picked “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, because it’s very pertinent to this situation and it was the song my soccer team used for a motto during my junior year in high school.

I went to Pathways, in Atlanta for outpatient therapy after Shepherds. I was there for 6 weeks Monday-Friday, for 5 1/2 hours a day. I was challenged there as well, and everyone was great. While there I worked on speech, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. I also had recreational therapy and pet therapy. In recreational therapy, I went rock climbing and on a hike. In PT, I worked on my fitness and went swimming. For OT, I did a lot of cooking and also started a computer program for driving. I even did some work on a driving simulator. With all these disciplines, the idea was to get me closer to the way I was before the accident. My goals at that point were to be completely independent, drive, and go back to work. They helped me get closer to those goals, and while I haven’t met them yet, I feel them getting closer every day.

After Atlanta, I came back home to Oak Ridge, which is near Knoxville. I am now just doing speech one time a week, and started back to work at UTMCK November 1st, about 6 months after my accident. I'm so lucky to have made this recovery, and even have the thought about going back to work. I definitely have a different perspective treating my patients now.