Narciso's Story

Photo of Narciso Serafin at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitaion

Spinal cord injury

Born and raised in Dallas, Narciso Serafin, 29, had always been active and industrious. Married for over three years, he balanced full-time work as an HVAC technician and landscaper with part-time work repairing cell phones and laptops. A world traveler, he was also pursuing a Master's degree in Biblical Studies.

His busy life, however, came to an abrupt halt due to a catastrophic car accident.

Late at night, while driving to see family in Nevada, a tire blowout caused his vehicle to roll over. Narciso was trapped and had to be rescued by emergency personnel. Fighting for his life, he was flown to the Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo.

His doctors at Texas Hospital placed him on life support. Narciso sustained severe injuries, including a spinal cord injury (SCI), spleen laceration and multiple fractures. SCI is a multidimensional disorder arising from direct or indirect spinal cord damage. He lost feeling from the middle of his back down to his legs. He also had numbness in his hands and weaker strength because of a neck injury. He had multiple surgeries on his back and spleen.

The accident's aftermath left him struggling with mobility and cognitive processes due to trauma. His bladder didn’t work well, so he needed a catheter. He couldn't walk, or transfer well due to poor sensation and paralysis from his chest down. Narciso could feed himself and do basic grooming, but he had trouble sitting up and standing. He had several healing wounds and trouble with thinking processes because of the trauma from the accident.

Once he was medically stable, his physicians recommended an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program to help him regain mobility and independence.

Narciso chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) - Dallas for his rehabilitation journey. The decision was influenced by recommendations from his physical therapist and social worker at Northwest Texas Hospital, who praised Baylor's experience and specialized SCI program.

Upon admission to BSWIR - Dallas, the rehabilitation team worked with Narciso and his family to put a treatment plan in place. Narciso expressed his primary goal to his care team: “I want to walk ... to be more independent again,” he said.

The foundation of his plan included physical, occupational and speech therapy. Physical therapy activities aimed to strengthen his body and increase his endurance and activity tolerance. His physical therapists focused on stretching his legs, improving his sitting balance and gait training.

“[My therapist] worked with me on stretching my legs, and how to be on my belly to self-stretch and to rest my back,” he recalled. “She worked on my sitting balance and also how to get on all fours.”

Occupational therapy (OT) focused on refining his fine motor skills and completing everyday tasks. His therapist also taught him techniques for transferring between surfaces, self-catheterization and independent bathing and dressing.

“My OT showed me tricks to turn my body, how to transfer and educated me on how to cath [catheterize] myself in my room and also in public bathrooms,” Narciso exclaimed.

Speech therapy would aid Narciso in regaining control of his memory, recall, concentration and decision-making. Speech therapy worked on cognitive skills essential for his return to school and work. Narciso also participated in the SCI-specific classes, learning crucial skills for living with SCI.

His family's support played a vital role in his recovery, especially his wife, who encouraged him to continue pursuing his goals.

“My parents, sisters and my wife’s support encouraged me and now I have already started to travel internationally again,” he said. 

Narciso worked tirelessly to regain his strength, skills and independence. He could now go home.

Upon discharge, Narciso expressed his desire to continue treatment on an outpatient basis at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation - Outpatient Therapy.

Within outpatient, Narciso continued focusing on balance and functional transfers. Despite interruptions due to wound healing complications and subsequent surgeries, he progressively improved his ability to transfer independently between various surfaces, including bed, wheelchair, toilet and shower. Narciso also learned to drive again, which was newfound freedom for him.

He also found strength and success at home.  “When I started to exercise at home, it took me a month or two to find my balance, but then I started to feel more confident and my attitude towards myself and everybody around me started to change positively,” he remembered. “I started to work out even more advanced techniques, my transfers got more sturdy, and more advanced, and that in turn motivated me to go further.”

Indeed, Narciso shared this uplifting news with the care team:  “My wife and I are also planning to have our own family.”

Narciso now looks forward to traveling and spending time with loved ones armed with the skills and confidence gained through his rehabilitation journey.

He left this advice for others who find themselves in an unexpected health journey: "Don't look down. Live and move forward to achieve new heights, new plans and expand your horizons."