Posted on February 9, 2012 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 10 of 32 in the series Kelly

Relearning to Walk after Severe TBI: Kelly Part Ten

Kelly talks about relearning to walk after severe TBI and how it wasn’t easy.  It took a long time before he was able to walk on his own.


Now you were mentioning in the transfer there were issues about whether you walked and the wheelchair.  When you first began to remember things, were you relearning to walk after severe TBI?


Did you have difficulty with relearning to walk after severe TBI?


Tell me about relearning to walk after severe TBI.

Very, very dizzy.  I didn’t start walking until I got back to Vanderbilt Stallworth. But I know that in Austin I had to go to the restroom, so I got up on my own because I’m a very autonomous person, very independent.  Got up on my own, went to the restroom and promptly went splat.

Luckily that there was nurse’s button in the restroom.  Of course I hit that; here comes the nurse running “what happened, what happened”.  I said I got up and fell right back down.  “Well you’re not supposed to be up and walking.”

And, and ever since then that fall, I’m not allowed to do anything for the risk of whatever.

You’re saying from that point on while you were in Austin they didn’t let ya go to the restroom by yourself.


They kept a closer eye on you?

Yes; they put a little potty beside my bed so I could just go right over there.  And that’s how we did our morning and nightly routine.

Is it while you’re still in Austin they begin to work on therapy for relearning to walk after severe TBI?


Tell me about that the therapy forrelearning to walk after severe TBI.

Well, it really wasn’t walking per se, but it kind of was.  We’d walk from a bed to the hall and my balance was off so I’d hold a handrail that goes along most hospital walls.  And then we’d walk all the way down the hall until we get to the stairwell.

Brackenridge Trauma Center, I was on the third, third or fourth floor.  Second floor’s ICU.  They moved me up to fourth floor and then down to the third floor, so it was the third, third or fourth; I can’t remember that fine point detail, but I was either on the third or fourth floor when we began attend therapy.

So I’d walk up the hall, walk down to the stairwell and there’s six flights of stairs.  Well, every day I had to climb those six flights of stairs three times.  To this day I hate stairs, but I climbed them holding the rail and that’s how I did my walking.

I’m sure there was an elevator in the hospital but they wanted you to climb those stairs.


Did you get better at it?

Very, very much better.

Now when you come back to Tennessee, did you continue with your physical therapy for relearning to walk after severe TBI?

Yes; when I came back to Tennessee, they put me in a wheelchair because what – in this, in this fall that I had taken either in the bathroom at Austin or when I had the initial injury itself, it caused me to not rupture, not really separate but dislocate my ACS joint, interior clavicle joint and so I couldn’t use my left arm.  Plus the referred trauma anyway caused , basically claw handed.

So my left side was paralyzed.  I couldn’t use it, so when I got back to, when I was transferred to Nashville, they put me in a wheelchair and I had to walk with my chair everywhere.  Since I couldn’t wheel it I had to walk it.

How long does it take you to regain function in your left, in your left side?

I’m thinking about that one here.  I don’t want to waste your time and minutes, but, I would say three weeks in early November.

Were you getting spasticity in your left hand?

I didn’t have any spasticity.

But you said it was claw hand?  

I had the claw hand.  I just couldn’t move it.

Talk to me about looking at your hand and not being able to get it to do something.  What’s that like?

It’s awful.  It is to this day will make me cry so I’m going to  try to overlook that, but it was awful, awful.  I just wanted to get a knife and just cut my hand off because it was useless.

Next in Part Eleven – Hand Becomes the Symbol of Her Post TBI Disability

By Attorney Gordon Johnson


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447