Mary's Story

Mary Quarles after rehabilitation

Traumatic brain injury

The 65-year-old mother of four, Mary Quarles, had sustained a life-threatening head injury during a motor vehicle accident. "I was in a terrible car accident where we hit a pole," she said. "I don't really remember anything, but they told me that I took a helicopter ride."

Airlifted to Ascension Seton Williamson Hospital in Round Rock, Texas, Mary was diagnosed with a brain injury, collapsed lungs, broken ribs and a broken arm. Once stable, Mary was ready for rehabilitation. Her brain injury left her unbalanced and unable to walk or use her right arm. In addition, each time she sat upright or stood, dizziness and nausea ensued. Cognitively, she had trouble with memory and paying attention to tasks.

Her challenges made Mary determined to walk again, regain her independence and "…remember things without needing people to repeat them all of the time," she said. Mary and her family chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Lakeway for her rehabilitation.

The care team assessed and tailored a rehab plan to help her achieve her goals. Physical therapy worked to strengthen her legs and core muscles by riding a stationary bike and by using the Kore Balance machine. Occupational therapy took her through laundry simulation (loading/unloading), cooking/kitchen navigation, meal prep and car transfers to reintegrate her into doing daily tasks. Once strong enough, she began walking with assistance and focused on balance, navigating through even and uneven surfaces. "The ramp and stairs were tough," she recalled, "but I felt like they were important to my function outside of the hospital." Therapists also had Mary work with the hospital's therapy dog, Jasper, who helped Mary regain her strength and balance.

Reminiscing on her experience with her therapy team, she stated, "My therapy team worked with me every single day. They did a great job showing me ways to better myself by providing me with problem-solving skills and making sure that I was always comfortable and safe."

After weeks of occupational therapy sessions focused on self-care, Mary was thrilled to reach a significant milestone: She dressed independently, using only one hand.

Within five weeks of hard work, Mary was ready to go home.

Mary leaves this advice for those going through a similar situation: "I would say to listen to your therapists, nurses and doctors, because they truly have your best interest in mind. Also, as tough as it is, make sure to get help when you need it so that you don't fall and get hurt."