Traumatic Brain Injury
A day of family fun riding ATVs quickly turned tragic for Jacob Shipman when his vehicle overturned. Jacob suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) along with other traumatic injuries including multiple broken ribs and bruised lungs. Due to the severity and complexity of his injuries, he was transferred to the Level 1 trauma center at Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health.
Jacob’s chest injuries led to respiratory failure, requiring him to be placed on a ventilator, and later on an ECMO machine that oxygenated his blood until he regained the function of his lungs. Jacob also had a tracheostomy to help him breath and a feeding tube for nutrition. Jacob was transferred for critical recovery care to Select Specialty Hospital – Dallas Downtown. There, Jacob was under continuous observation to prevent further complications. This was crucial in preparing him for the next step in his recovery.
After nearly five weeks of battling for his life, Jacob began to show signs of progress just days before Christmas. Jacob began to stabilize and was weaned off the ventilator, followed by the removal of his tracheostomy and feeding tube. He was ready for the next phase in his recovery and transferred to the TBI program at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation - Dallas (BSWIR-Dallas) just a couple days after Christmas, but nearly two months after the accident.
Due to his severe injuries and the need to be kept sedated early on, Jacob didn’t remember the accident, or much of anything during his time in the ICU. Although he struggled with memory as a TBI patient, he knew exactly what his future had in store and he was determined to get better.
On Jacob’s first day of therapy, he didn’t hold back. He was ready to get up and moving out of the hospital bed. He was laser-focused on his recovery, stating, “I gotta do what it takes to get home.” Physical therapy was key to reaching his goals, and for the first time since the accident he stood, sat up in a chair, and even walked. He was doing things he hadn’t done in nearly two months. He didn’t just talk about being motivated to get better, he showed it every day in his therapy sessions.
There were also some setbacks along the way. Jacob was still healing from his multiple wounds, so the more he moved, the more pain he experienced. Scar tissue had built up on his neck from his air tube incision and restricted airflow. This was frustrating, but Jacob didn’t let it derail his goals. He underwent a procedure to successfully remove the scar tissue and got back on track. Within two weeks of being at BSWIR-Dallas, Jacob was cleared to walk in his room, dress and shower on his own. He was also no longer using a wheelchair and was walking to all his therapy sessions with a walker and a staff member. Before long, he was walking on his own to therapy. His ability to take everything in stride went a long way for his recovery. He always had a positive attitude and a smile on his face.
The final touches of Jacob’s recovery came in occupational therapy where he really fine-tuned his ability to be independent. He wanted to ‘cross off’ a few last-minute items to makes sure he was ready to safely return home to an independent lifestyle. In his last few days in rehabilitation, he was cooking and doing laundry on his own – tasks that can be quite difficult following a brain injury
Jacob’s road to recovery wasn’t easy, but his determination, work ethic and sense of humor during rehabilitation paved the way for success and his return to family and independence. Jacob is hopeful that by sharing his story, he will help inspire others who may be facing the same challenges that he had to overcome.
As Jacob was discharged he shared, “I couldn’t have gone to a better place. I couldn’t have done it without y’all.”