Travis' Story

Travis Wilson shooting a basketball


Travis Wilson shooting a basketball

Born and raised in Daingerfield, Texas, 22-year-old Travis Wilson was a familiar face in the community. Working alongside his fellow road construction crewmembers, he spent his days enjoying the company of his colleagues and the satisfaction of a hard day's work.

However, tragedy struck when a drunk driver careened into the work zone at a high speed, forever altering the course of Travis' life.

"It was just another day at the job," Travis recounted. "I was putting reflectors on the road when I saw the car speeding towards me. Before I could react, everything went dark."

The catastrophic impact of the collision left Travis with multiple injuries, including a tibia-fibula fracture on his right leg, a fibula fracture on his left leg and multiple fractured fingers on his right hand. He was rushed to the hospital. Despite the excruciating pain, Travis remained conscious until he arrived at the acute care unit where he was sedated.

Transported to Medical City Plano for urgent medical care, Travis embarked on a complex series of surgeries. Travis had to get several limbs amputated, including both legs. Specifically, Travis had below knee amputations, along with several fingers on his right hand. The right leg amputation did not heal well, and Travis had to undergo a second surgery to revise the amputation above his right knee. He was placed on powerful drugs to control his pain and a ventilator to help him breathe.

His family was around him, but he was unable to interact with them at all. "When I woke after my surgeries, I had a tube in my mouth - I could not speak," Travis recalled. "I was really weak and could not comprehend what all was going on."

Soon, Travis began to stabilize. He was liberated from the ventilator. “After few days, when my tube was taken out, I was able to talk, but I did not realize what I had to do to get better until I got to the rehab,” Travis exclaimed.

Travis underwent inpatient rehabilitation and got stronger. He also was able to function without help for his daily activities. After a month, he was released from the hospital and returned home.

After a few months of adapting to his new reality at home, Travis was beginning to feel depressed. "At first, lots of friends started coming around and checking on me, but after a couple of weeks, it slowed down, and I felt really lonely. I felt anxious to get out, I had panic attacks and I started to retrieve myself from the world," Travis recalled. "I went to outpatient twice a week and received bilateral prosthetic legs, but I didn't want to put on my legs… I did not want to talk to anybody."

It was not until he connected with his case manager that he sought further rehabilitation and training for his prosthesis. "It took me forever to get to an emotional acceptance level to follow her advice," he remembered.

Looking for the best fit for his next level of rehabilitation, Travis and his mother decided on Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Dallas.

The rehabilitation team at BSWIR – Dallas worked with Travis and his family to put a treatment plan in place. While Travis stayed at home, his muscles began to tighten and stiffen, and he had become weaker overall. He told the care team that his goals were to walk again, get a better understanding of the “new him” and return to the normalcies in his life, such as driving, playing basketball and returning to work.

At BSWIR – Dallas, a team of physician-led therapists would help Travis meet his physical and emotional challenges – and find the motivation he was missing. Indeed, from relearning basic tasks to accepting his new reality, Travis' rehabilitation journey would be a difficult road.

Through physical therapy, occupational therapy and the support of his therapists and family, Travis gradually regained his strength and independence. When asked which therapies helped him the most, he referenced physical therapy and using a mirror to help him refocus on his walking pattern. He was taught to use his prosthetic legs, which also helped him accept his new appearance.

"Once I started to accept my appearance and my limb loss, things started to change, and I felt like I could do anything," Travis shared. "The first time I stood up with my prosthesis was amazing, a sign of relief and an assurance that I would walk soon." Community outings provided him with additional opportunities for social integration and self-discovery, helping him reduce his anxiety in the process.

In addition to the strength his therapy team helped him regain, he gained friendship, encouragement and motivation. "My occupational therapist really encouraged me and motivated me to accept myself and get with the rehab process. He is the one I cried in front of for the first time since my injury. He really felt like a friend, and I felt encouraged to find my spiritual side."

As Travis prepared to leave the hospital and embark on the next chapter of his life, he did so with optimism and gratitude. He stated, "I have no more anxiety and panic attacks about going out and I am not worried about the looks people might give."

"I can do whatever! There are so many options out there for me, so many things I can do that I didn't realize was possible after my accident," Travis reflected.

The team at BSWIR – Dallas helped Travis to accomplish his goals and reintegrate himself back into society. Now, Travis is back to playing basketball, walking, driving and eventually will go back to work. "I knew I had to keep going," Travis recalled. "Even when the road ahead seemed daunting, I refused to give up."

As he continues with his life, Travis leaves this advice for others in a similar situation: "I never thought I could get out of my depressed state, but I did. I can't really explain, but I'm happy about my life, and I accept it! Don't give up – keep going because your life is not over!"