Posted on February 19, 2013 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 7 of 36 in the series Zachary

Brain Injury Rehab: Zach Part Seven

All right, let’s talk about your period of brain injury rehab when you were at Spaulding.  What do you remember?

Well I remember being confined to a wheelchair for almost a month. So I had no means of transportation beside the wheelchair.   That was, it was just hell, I couldn’t, I was like a prisoner.  It was like they kept me in a hospital bed but it was a net bed because it was head injury.  “Oh, we don’t know what he’s going to do so we have to keep him in a net bed”. So I was like in jail. I couldn’t like go anywhere, and like when I had to pee I had to call somebody.

Describe what a net bed is.

Net bed, it’s a bed it’s just like this plastic frame and it has like a mesh net on every side and it, it keeps you enclosed in that.  You can’t go anywhere, you can’t do anything. You have to watch TV through the net and that’s what I would do every night, by myself.

How long were you in the net bed after you got to Spaulding?

For a while, because even though they don’t know this – (I was thinking):“I don’t need a net bed, I can like walk.” So I tried to get out and I like stuck my hand through the net and undid the zipper thing.  And I stood up and my feet just gave out and my feeding tube – that was feeding at the time, there was food in it, going to my stomach – popped out and it sprayed me like all in the face and I was like, oh I’m a mess.  My mom came and she helped me get back in the bed so.

What time of day was that?

That was in the middle of the day. She went to go get lunch and was like perfect, I’ll go, because I really had to pee, like really bad so I was like I got to go.

During the time you were in the net bed and in brain injury rehab, would they assist you to go the bathroom or did you have to use a bedpan?

I had to use a pan, but I tried not to, you know I, I’d call people.  Anytime I could get up and walk was the time that I could practice walking.  So I tried you know do that as much as I could.  My mom would take me to go walk back and forth in this hallway and she was like “oh you need to practice, you need to practice.”  I’m like, yeah, so you know I’d pretty much be doing sprints.  It felt to me like a sprint but it was really just me trying to walk.


When was it you first tried to walk with your brain injury rehab, do you remember this?

The first time I tried to walk without the incident?

When you get to Spaulding they’re probably giving you PT, OT, speech therapy as all part of your brain injury rehab?


So did they start the PT as brain injury rehab right away with your brain injury rehab?

Yeah, but they would give it to me in small doses and I wanted to you go as fast as I could. I was always training for something. What I would do sometimes, I would roll myself down to rehab and you know the hand bike? I would just do the hand bike all the time, by myself, it makes my brain start thinking faster, you know?  It helps.

Was there some disconnect between you as an athlete who knew how to achieve a goal and what you as a patient in brain injury rehab were able to do PT after your injury?

Yes, yes.  Because I wanted it now.  Like I honestly, when, my mom was telling me what happened to me (about my accident and injuries) on the ambulance ride to Spaulding, she was like you’re going to have to learn how to walk again, you’re going to have to learn how to do this.  I’m like (thinking in my head) well what does she know? I accomplished so much already in athletics that I don’t need that.

You are thinking Walk? I can hit a curve ball?

I can. I got that, I got this, you know? But then I got it, oh I do have (problems). They were trying to take their time and I was like no, I want to get out of here.  I don’t want to spend my whole summer in rehab (brain injury rehab).  So I’d try to push myself as hard as I could, but a lot of times it’d be like, you got to watch it.

The time you got out of bed and got the feeding tube stuff all over you, that’s the first time you actually discovered that your legs didn’t work?

Yeah, yeah, in fact that’s when I was like: “Oh, you’re right, this isn’t a joke.” Yeah.


Part Eight – Other Physical Injuries in Addition to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

About the Author

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