Traumatic Brain Injury
On a warm fall day, Fiho Lee decided to take advantage of the weather with his dad on the golf course. Fiho, a University of North Texas student, later decided to go skateboarding, an activity he hadn’t done in a while – but was always a favorite hobby among friends. However, this time he was alone and as it grew darker at the end of the day, Fiho reminded himself to stay alert and steer clear of any unfamiliar areas.
When Fiho did not return home, his mother began texting and calling him. Four hours after her first attempt to reach Fiho, an ICU nurse at Texas Health Hospital in Plano answered the phone. She told Mrs. Lee that her son had been found on the road after a horrible fall from his skateboard. At the ER, Fiho was intubated and underwent several CT scans and MRIs that revealed a broken occipital bone – the lower, back portion of the skull. This caused a lot of internal bleeding in his brain, but thankfully, did not require surgery. Fiho’s official diagnosis was subdural hematoma, a pooling of blood that pushes on the brain.
By the next day, Fiho was able to follow commands, had neurologic improvements and was extubated. After an additional five days, Fiho was discharged to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Frisco (BSWIR-Frisco) to continue his recovery under medical supervision.
Fiho’s immediate challenges were excruciating head pain, memory loss and impulsivity. He had no recollection of the last 10 days, the fall or the bystander who called 911. Fiho was saying and doing things out of character. While this is common in patients with a brain injury, it was hard for his parents to understand the changes in Fiho’s behavior.
Early in his inpatient rehabilitation stay, the head pain was so intense, Fiho felt incapacitated. He would find comfort in the hospital’s full-time facility dog, Wailor. Petting Wailor in his room was a simple, yet extremely effective way to ease Fiho into other activities as his headache pain became more manageable.
Before long, Fiho was joining other patients in community re-integration outings, an important step for those who have had a brain injury as they help challenge and evaluate a patient’s vision, balance and ability to tolerate environmental stimuli such as light, noise and external distractions. Before long, Fiho was doing more and more on these outings, from playing tennis to visiting the field at The Star in Frisco to test out his running.
Speech therapy sessions were key to improving Fiho’s memory and cognitive thinking while physical therapy focused on recovering the balance deficits caused by the injury.
As Fiho continued to improve, he graduated from inpatient rehabilitation and chose to stay within the Baylor Scott & White Rehabilitations continuum of care transferring to the specialized outpatient Day Neuro Program. There, Fiho continued to work on skills that would allow him to return to driving and school. The program also assisted Fiho in continuing to manage independence in stimulating and uncontrolled environments.
Fiho defined his rehabilitation experience as genuine. He recalled his encounters with the doctors, nurses, therapists, and staff as uplifting and positive. Fiho also shared that recovery is not just physical, but mental and emotional as well.