Traumatic brain injury
Life has a way of testing the strength and resilience of individuals, and for 63-year-old John Meeks, surviving a life-threatening motorcycle accident was his greatest trial.
"I love to play golf. I used to play baseball a lot, and before the injury, I loved riding my motorcycle," John said. "I was a cop for 14 years, and now I work at Parkland [Texas] as a senior maintenance mechanic. I've been married to my wife, Sarah, for 42 years."
On that fateful day, a car clipped John while he was riding his motorcycle, resulting in a traumatic brain injury that would leave him unconscious for nine days and without any memory of the accident.
"I was driving to work on my motorcycle... I was unconscious and have no recollection of this happening. Thank God I had my helmet and my leathers on or things could have been so different," recalled John.
The aftermath was severe. He faced several medical challenges, from a subdural hematoma (a type of brain bleed) and multiple fractures to having to be fed through a tube. Once he stabilized after four weeks, John required rehabilitative care to regain his lost strength and independence.
For John's next level of recovery, he and his family chose the Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Fort Worth's Day Neuro Program for specialized rehabilitation. He noted, "Sarah picked it... I wanted to be here where everyone else is getting well."
Upon arrival at BSWIR – Fort Worth Day Neuro, the physician-led rehabilitation team worked with John to develop a treatment plan. Recovery would not be easy. John wanted to improve his memory and cognition, walk unassisted, and return to work, requiring physical, occupational, recreational and speech therapy.
His team of therapists employed various exercises and therapies tailored to his needs. He participated in daily physical and occupational therapies focused on strengthening his body and increasing his balance and mobility.
His care team also focused on improving his independence by teaching him the skills necessary to perform everyday tasks such as eating, dressing and getting in and out of bed. John's program included a variety of exercises and innovative technologies, such as gait training and boxing.
"I really liked doing squats and strengthening my legs. I also loved boxing with recreation therapy and physical therapy... Speech therapy incorporated things I do at work, such as work orders to help me improve."
An important milestone was reached when John started walking without his walking stick. It signaled a joyous turning point in his recovery. All through his healing journey, his wife Sarah was by his side. "My wife has done everything for me... emotionally supported me through all of this," he said.
What John looked forward to the most post-recovery was simple yet heartwarming: "Freedom to go out and mow my grass on my zero turn! I have four acres that I like to take care of."
Reflecting on his time at BSWIR – Fort Worth Day Neuro, John described his rehabilitation experience as transformative. "A little tough at times, but great. Fantastic. Compared to what I was when I was in inpatient to where I am now, these people have worked miracles," he exclaimed.
He added, "From the wreck to everything I've gone through... I'm so glad I'm alive... I'm so thankful for these people here getting me so much better so I don't have to worry about [Sarah] seeing me like that anymore."
For those facing a similar ordeal, John had straightforward advice: "I would tell them to come see you folks because of what y'all did for me. I'd have to be an idiot not to recommend this place. It's amazing, and these people are amazing."