Diego's Story

Patient, Diego Valls and his sister Sophia.

Traumatic brain injury

Diego Valls in therapy gym

In the blink of an eye, Diego Valls, a 19-year-old engineering student with a passion for skateboarding and soccer, was thrust into an unexpected battle to reclaim his life. Last year, he had an accident while riding a motorized skateboard without a helmet. It left Diego with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, through the support of his family and therapists at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Dallas, Diego's indomitable spirit propelled him towards a remarkable recovery.

A resident of Plano, TX, Diego was admitted to St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital in Bryan, TX, where he spent a week before transferring to BSWIR – Dallas. From the moment he arrived, Diego faced an array of challenges stemming from his injury. With impaired mobility and coordination, basic tasks such as walking and sitting up proved to be arduous obstacles. Under the guidance of his care team, Diego began his rehabilitation journey.

Physical therapy played a vital role in Diego's recovery, with rigorous exercises like squats and side steps aimed at strengthening his legs and improving his walking abilities. Through occupational therapy, Diego honed his visual skills, engaging in activities such as puzzles to regain focus and eye coordination. Speech therapy helped him enhance his cognitive abilities, challenging him with mathematical problems and multitasking exercises. These therapies, combined with the encouragement of his therapists, propelled Diego toward milestones he didn’t think attainable.

Diego's sister, Sophia, witnessed his inspiring progress first-hand. She remembers the moment when Diego, after weeks of struggling, managed to stand on his own. The relief and joy that swept over their family marked a turning point, igniting hope for a brighter future. Diego himself recognized the role that therapy played in his recovery, recalling the "ah-ha!" moment when he learned to walk with a natural gait, thanks to the guidance of his physical therapist. “I couldn’t walk at first," said Diego. “My therapist told me to put my heels down first before my toes and I was able to walk normally…That’s when I noticed I was progressing.”

Throughout his stay at the rehabilitation center, Diego's loved ones remained by his side, bolstering his spirits and ensuring his comfort. They actively participated in his education and training, preparing to continue supporting his recovery once he returned home.

Diego is deeply grateful for his rehabilitation experience. "Everyone here is very hospitable and very helpful," he said. Diego's positive outlook and resilience allowed him to navigate the darkest moments of his recovery with strength and determination.

Looking ahead, Diego anticipates the simple joys of daily life -- showering independently and indulging in his favorite foods. With aspirations of regaining his ability to drive, Diego recognizes that his journey is far from over. His commitment to rehabilitation will lead him to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Frisco Day Neuro Program, where he will continue therapy.

In his time at BSWIR – Dallas, Diego learned that, “I can deal with anything without getting sad. I am okay, it happened and it sucks, but I am okay. I can deal with hard stuff in life and I can move on."