Young Man’s TBI Recovery May be What Gifford Faces in Recovery
The New York Times Monday did a profile of a young man who, after being shot through the head, underwent treatment at the same facility where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will be going: the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston.
Mark Steinhubl, a 20-year-old college student, was shot in the head on Jan. 4, 2009, while he was at his friend’s house. The takeaway from his experience recovering from traumatic brain injury, the same type of brain damage that Giffords sustained when she was shot Jan. 8, is that rehabilitation is grueling and difficult.
The bullet that struck Steinhubl went through the right side of his brain, The Times reported. Doctors had to take off part of his skull, as they did with Giffords, to relieve the pressure as his brain swelled from the injury. Steinhubl, who ended up losing his right eye and hearing in his right ear, couldn’t even sit up when he first got to the institute.
Once a top student and athlete, it took time for Steinhubl to be able to sit up in bed. His left arm was paralyzed, and physical therapists worked with him so he could regain control of those muscles, according to The Times. They also taught him to walk again.
Steinhubl also had cognitive problems, and had trouble doing math and remembering things. But he progressed, and left the institute Feb. 28 last year, three months ahead of schedule, according to The Times. He then continued his therapy at an outpatient clinic.
The young man, who still doesn’t have full use of his left hand, is attending A&M in Texas. He is studying chemical engineering, but still isn’t ready to take a full course load.
Giffords will be moved to the institute where Steinhubl underwent rehab once she is well enough to get out of intensive care at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston. And no doubt, her journey will be as difficult as Steinhubl’s.