John's Story

Photo of John Porter at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation.

Traumatic brain injury

An electrician by trade, 63-year-old John Porter was born and raised in Odessa, Texas. He loved antiquing and rebuilding cars.But John’s world changed in an instant.

One day when he left early from work, he was struck by a car, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury and several broken bones.

Rushed to Plano Medical Center via CareFlight, he was in the intensive care unit for about two weeks until he transitioned to a regular hospital room. In addition to a brain bleed, his doctors reported that he had sustained a broken left femur, broken ribs on his left side, a broken orbital bone and nose.

“I had a rod put in my leg and brain surgery due to brain bleed and brain hemorrhage,” John said.

He also needed to have a blood transfusion and have his spleen removed. Due to the traumatic brain injury, John tired easily and had vision, memory, attention and functioning deficits. Everyday tasks and his hobbies seemed a distant memory. Once John stabilized, his physicians recommended an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program to help him regain mobility and independence.

John was admitted to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) - Frisco, where a dedicated team of physician-led therapists tailored a comprehensive rehabilitation plan to address his unique needs. His goals when entering BSWIR - Frisco were simple. He wanted to regain his ability to live independently. For him, that looked like walking, going back to work, driving – plus, spending more time with his family and friends.

During his stay, John benefitted from a range of hands-on therapies and innovative technologies to retrain his strength, mobility and balance. With determination and encouragement from his care team, his hard work allowed him to progress from a wheelchair to standing without assistance. John recalled his “ah-ha” moment when he was able to walk without a walker or cane to the end of the hall and back in a timely manner. He is now able to walk independently in crowded areas, such as church and shopping, and has even started to go to the gym a few days a week.

The occupational therapy team focused on improving John's visual and cognitive deficits. Through a series of vision exercises and functional tasks, they worked to strengthen the muscles around his eyes and enhance their coordination.

Collaboration with a neuro-optometrist was pivotal, leading to significant improvements in John's vision, enabling him to drive and navigate the community independently.

Speech therapy played a critical role in enhancing John's cognitive-communication skills. Through targeted exercises and simulations, John improved his attention, memory, processing speed and executive functions. He learned to manage his deficits using compensatory strategies, such as taking notes and using a calendar, which allowed him to manage his finances and medical appointments independently.

John also participated in recreation therapy where activities like yoga, meditation and mindfulness helped him navigate stress and improve his flexibility.

“My team has challenged me to improve myself every day, physically and mentally,” John exclaimed. “They pushed me to work hard on my vision, memory, strength and balance. All therapies helped me in one way or the other. I questioned some things I was doing because they did not make sense to me, but I learned early on to trust the professionals here and do what was asked of me to the best of my ability… and it has paid off.”

Community outings and practical applications of therapy were integral to John's rehabilitation. He engaged in volunteering, visited local businesses and used real-life materials like menus and work manuals to hone his cognitive skills. In addition, simulated work tasks and a visit to his workplace allowed him to envision a successful transition back to his job.

He looks forward to getting back to his ‘new normal’ life. He looks to still continue working with BSWIR on his vision issues.

When reflecting on his time at BSWIR - Frisco, John shared the following:

“Everyone was so helpful and encouraging. I was challenged but not pushed too hard as to be overwhelmed. I was challenged to keep myself under control. I didn’t have a problem with that pre-injury but have struggled since my accident. They helped me to learn to take a step back and view difficult things from other perspectives. They never put me down or made me feel bad about myself, but they did challenge me to be a better person.”