No one expects to suffer a traumatic brain injury. It certainly wasn’t something Tammy Boughan ever thought would change her life.
In 2013, Tammy was working as a carpenter. She was setting up trusses in a construction building when a gust of wind came through, knocking the trusses down. When they came down, so did Tammy. She was pulled off her feet and fell 12 feet, causing serious injury. Tammy was diagnosed with eight broken ribs, a broken clavicle and was required to have two surgeries on her leg and foot. She was also diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
March is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a TBI is “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”
Tammy has no memories of spending her first week after the accident at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, OH. She began her care in the hospital’s intensive care unit but was eventually transferred to the inpatient rehabilitation unit. There, Tammy participated in several therapy services.
St. Rita’s inpatient rehab program is intense, daily therapy with therapists who have additional training in the treatment of traumatic brain injury survivors. The program consists of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, skilled nursing and rehab and physical medicine specialties.
“Patients who survive a traumatic brain injury can suffer a variety of deficits depending on what area of their brain was impacted,” says Brittany Patterson, certified occupational therapy assistant at St. Rita’s Medical Center on the inpatient rehabilitation floor. “Commonly, we will see people with cognitive concerns that affect their memory, problem solving and attention. Additionally, patients can suffer from impaired balance, incoordination and other physical deficits as well.”
These therapies all helped Tammy return to her daily life. She recalls being put through memory tests to challenge her thinking after her brain injury, as well as having to work on her overall strength to help her get home. When she finished with inpatient rehab program, Tammy continued her care through St. Rita’s and participated in their outpatient therapy program as well.
“Although a diagnosis of TBI can be traumatic, therapy has proven to show significant gains in helping these patients return to independence. Through hard work, our patients can return to their daily lives and most significantly, what is important to them and what they love to do. I love working with patients to help them regain their independence and return to their daily life,” Brittany adds.
And Tammy hasn’t let her accident, or her traumatic brain injury, stop her from living. She continues to be successful in her career, as well as her personal life. Although she had to take one year off work after her accident, Tammy is now back to her job full-time as a carpenter and has also adopted two beautiful children.
Tammy knows that her accident may always have some impact on her life. However, she refuses to let it define her.
“I want to thank everyone for the great care and therapy I received at St. Rita’s. It helped me get back to my normal routine,” she says. “I would like to remind everyone that even after suffering something like a traumatic brain injury, you can still live a successful life and live your life to the fullest!”
Learn more about the rehabilitation and physical therapy services we offer at Mercy Health.