Robert's Story

Robert Pierce after rehabilitation

Traumatic brain injury

Robert Pierce woke in the middle of the night screaming in pain from his head.

After a night spent at his daughter’s band contest, the 43-year-old and his family returned home and started to get ready for bed. While in the bathroom, Robert fell and hit his head. “It was bleeding, but we got it under control,” he said. “I went to bed thinking I was going to be ok.”

EMTs rushed him to Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth where he was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma. Blood was rushing into Robert’s skull putting pressure on his brain. To relieve that pressure, surgeons performed a hemicraniectomy, removing part of his skull and giving his brain room to expand.

The army veteran awoke confused and unaware of where he was, what had happened to him and why he couldn’t walk. Robert’s brain injury caused him to suffer from focus and concentration issues, aspiration pneumonia, swallowing challenges and disturbed vision.

Unaware of his surroundings, Robert’s wife chose to transfer him to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Fort Worth. “It seemed like everyone knew who I was and I never knew them,” he said of his time there.

When Robert was discharged from the inpatient hospital, he was unable to walk and relied on a wheelchair to get around. Determined to continue his rehabilitation journey, he chose the Fort Worth Day Neuro Program, an intensive day-long outpatient program that provides focused rehabilitation for people who have had a stroke, brain injury or other neurological disorder.

His biggest goal to walk again, Robert’s BSWIR – Fort Worth Day Neuro team went to work on a tailored program for him.

Physical therapy created an exercise regimen for Robert aimed at strengthening his leg muscles, left arm and increasing his standing endurance. He successfully gained strength with a combination of free weight exercises, stationary bikes and walking practice using the parallel bars. At first, Robert was unable to walk but he soon progressed from a wheelchair to walking with a series of braces supporting his legs, then to a cane and ankle brace for support. “There was a moment when I finally understood where I was and what my limitations were going to be,” he said. “At that moment, I knew what work I had to do to get where I wanted to be.”

While Robert is happy with the gains he has seen, he isn’t done yet. He plans to continue his therapy at an outpatient facility and at home.

His advice to those in a similar situation, “Trust what the therapists are telling you. Do your best every day. The only way things will change is to push through it. Don’t let the intrusive thoughts get you down. Accept that it’s going to suck for a while and you’ll come out on the other side.