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New Spinal Cord Injury - 19 year old brother

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  • New Spinal Cord Injury - 19 year old brother

    Hi everyone,

    I have been reading these forums pretty religiously since my baby brother's injury on September 2nd, 2012. He rolled his car on a windy road a mile or so from his and my parents' home. He was medivac'd to the emergency room and underwent fusion surgery on the C3-5 vertebrae shortly thereafter. Following the surgery, he was able to recover function in his arms and is able to better move his wrists but does not have much function in his hands other than that and certainly not in his fingers. He also has recovered feeling in his legs but no real movement other than spasms (no voluntary movement). He now says that he actually has more feeling in his legs than he does in his hands.

    He was in the ICU from September 2nd-September 21st. They then transferred him to the Kessler Institute in West Orange New Jersey, and he has been there until today. They have decided to transfer him to St. Barnabus hospital because they are unable to figure out why his fever keeps spiking. At Kessler, they have been able to wean him off of the ventilator rather quickly. He was on the vent full-time while in ICU (he was intubated two days after the accident because of an infection and a collapsed lung -- he was actually breathing completely on his own before that). They switched him to a trach and transferred him. When he got to Kessler, they said they were going to begin the weaning process, but he did so well that they were able to leave him off for extended periods of time. He is now never on the ventilator while he is awake (they put him back on at night), so he can talk and eat, which is very nice.

    It feels like a bit of a set-back that he is moving out of the rehab facility and into the hospital again, but I guess it is just so that more resources can be used to figure out the source of his mystery infection/the reason for the fever. I really, really hope he does not have to be in the regular hospital for very long, because I really want to see him making some forward progress.

    That's our story so far. I hope I'll be able to update this thread with triumphs and good news as time passes, but right now, it feels like its very much a two steps forward one step back type of situation.

    Thanks for reading.


  • #2
    I'm vey sorry to hear about his injury. I wonder why Kessler wasn't able to diagnose his fever ...? That's excellent that he's able to feel his legs as you described ! !


    • #3
      Sorry to hear about your brother. I was injured five years ago and it takes a good year just for the body to heel and adjust. I did some clinical studies at Kessler. They are a very good facility. I see you are in washington D.C. You have some really good facilities there too. I pray he does gain a lot back. Time will tell and things change weekly , monthly and sometimes later than that. My key to surviving this new life is staying physical strong. It will help him mentally as well as physically. Once he does start emailing , he can contact many of us who can refer and recommend things to him. You take care and he is lucky to have the family support too.
      Best Regards,


      • #4
        Hang in there! He's still here and fighting which is all that can be done at this point. Just keep pushing forward with him and venting/sharing/celebrating here. Folks here can relate and will chime in along the way which should help with yours and your family's journey into the world of SCI.

        Good luck and hang tough Nicole. Your brother sounds like a fighter!


        • #5
          So sorry to hear about your brother Nicole. There is a lot of excellent information here and the search feature a big help.
          Great news he is able to be off the vent. My husband uses it at night or if he needs a rest. He did not recover any arm or leg sensation and has been 4 years.
          For that reason I think it is good news your brother is having some sensation.

          I hope they get to the bottom of things at the hospital. Be insistant he is turned often. When my hub has had hospital stays I have had to get after them about it.
          Gook luck.


          • #6
            Nicole, no matter how hard it may be, keep a positive feeling. Sorry to hear about this. I was injured in '02 and in the hospital for 5-1/2 years. I could write a book on that mess. I did though about 2 years beging my own therapy. Taking things piece by piece. I do not know technology now compared to 10 years ago, but it seems the spinal cord it wuite a black black hole. Everyone's cord is unique. Even though you may want everything all fixed at the sme time and that may happen, maybe look at things in small pieces. As those pieces are accomplished, I think mentally everyone will fell a lot better.


            • #7
              What Joe said about the coordination of mental and physical, I think is very key. Taking small steps forward and accomplishing will add a ton mentally. If anyone thinks they are stuck sit down and analyze the stuck, and break it down into the smallest possible thing that needs to be done in order to accomplish the step may be working on. Sometimes "jumping" too far forward creates frustration. Try to back up and see what may be missing.


              • #8
                welcome, sorry you had to find us though.

                it sounds like your brother is getting some recovery. it is good he has some feeling.

                no questions at this point are too silly or unimportant to ask about. there is a good sci dr here, and sci nurses to answer your questions. good wishes and good healing to you and your family.


                • #9
                  Hi Nicole. Welcome to CC. Your brother is in the very early stages of a sci and he is very lucky to have you. The injury is not only devastating to him, but also to the whole family. It will take some time for all of you to wrap your heads around what this really means in terms of "life changing". He may get sad and depressed and, at 19 yrs old, he has every right to have those feelings. You, your parents, family and friends need to be the cheerleaders for him. You all need to not look too far ahead, but rather look at how far he has come since his accident. With some luck and hard work there is no telling what he may get back. In the beginning, it's day to day mini accomplishments. Please keep us posted and my thoughts are with all of you.


                  • #10
                    Hi Nicole, my son (C5) was at Kessler and was on oxygen when he got there and they wanted him off of that as soon as possible. Make no mistake Kessler does not play when the patient could be in respiratory distress. St Barnabas is only a couple of miles away. When we were there we seen patients go and come back. So while it is a small set back it is better to get that under control. Remember Kessler is a rehab hospital, they treat only minor issues and stabilize if there was an emergency. This is something they told us when we first got there. The process of rehab and recovery is a long arduous one. Keep strong, have faith, be there for him. We are just at 14 months tomorrow, my son's last day of outpatient at Kessler is this Friday. We will be going to Push 2 Walk like I said it is long road. People here and other forums like Apparlyzed are great resources for info no question is off limits. My family and I would have been lost if it were not for the good people here and other places
                    Please join me and donate a dollar a day at and copy and paste this message to the bottom of your signature


                    • #11
                      Wow, thank you all so much for the support.

                      Joe, I am in DC, but it's just me down here. My family is in Eastern PA, and my dad is actually from Orange, NJ, so he feels like he is at home spending so much time up near Kessler. I'd love to have Jamie closer to me, but the rest of the fam might argue with that. He is still close enough for his friends to visit him all the time, which I think has been extremely positive for him.

                      The doctors and staff at Kessler have been much more positive about his possibilities than the trauma doctors during his initial hospital stay. There was lots of conflicting information being given -- one doctor said that his spinal cord was "dead" from the chest down and that he has a 99.9% chance of never walking again, while others told us that he has two contusions on his spinal cord and that while chances certainly are not likely, it is impossible to tell how he will heal. It was really difficult being in that type of environment, and I hate to think that he may be going back to a place like that with this transfer. We are not overly hopeful, and I know that it is emotionally dangerous to give families and patients false hope, but it really does seem like no one knows what his outcomes will be.

                      Patton, you said that my brother sounds like a fighter, and he really is! He was quite an accomplished wrestler in high school and was working on gaining weight so that he could wrestle on his college team. He's a tiny little thing, and was so disappointed to inform me that all of the work he did to get up to 130 lbs has been lost as his most recent weigh-in has been at 110. Poor guy. When the doctor told him how long the recovery period would be, he said "you mean I am going to miss two wrestling seasons!?" so he is definitely staying hopeful despite the prognosis.

                      Here is the newspaper article about his accident:



                      • #12
                        A bruised spinal cord is better than a severed one. If that information in the article is correct, that's great news. All the best to your family, especially your baby brother


                        • #13
                          Nicole: sorry to hear about your brother I cannot suggest strongly enough to get him to a facility that specializes in SCI rehabilitation being from a very rural area I spent my time in a regular hospital a orthopedic surgeon looked at my CT via Internet many early clues were unheard/ unscene.. I second the advice on small steps I didn't believe the Dr 's who said at least a year before things settle so I pushed & pushed i became frustrated because I couldn't move this or that I ended up hurting myself more then helping at first not to sound morbid but I wish I could have a redo knowing what I learner the last year. Good luck there are many knowledgeable people here


                          • #14
                            I just spoke to my older brother who told me they believe it is a UTI. From what I understand, this is fairly common in catheter patients? Do you all think this might mean that his stay at the regular hospital will be brief and he will get back to Kessler soon?


                            • #15
                              Fromnwmont, he is technically at Kessler, which is supposed to be a very good sci rehab, but they transferred him to a regular hospital temporarily due to a spiking fever of which the doctors at Kessler are having a difficult time identifying the cause.