Posted on October 18, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 5 of 20 in the series Steven

Physical Side of the Brain Injury Disability: Steven Part Five


On the physical side of the brain injury, brain injury is not just a cognitive disability.  As the brain also runs the nervous system, the muscle, every organ, most severe brain injury comes with some significant physical disability.  At almost every support group that I play Lethan’s story,, it is the “heel toe, heel toe” theme, that gets the most reaction. See

Steven,  brain injury is not just a cognitive disability.   On the physical side of the brain injury, as the brain also runs the nervous system,were you able to walk at the point you left the hospital?

You could call it that, but it wasn’t very long.  I was mostly in a wheelchair.  Even after I got out of the hospital, if I went anywhere, like any public place, I had to have a wheelchair with me because I would slow everybody up to the point it was ridiculous or it just wouldn’t last.

Now, you said earlier that you’ve had a left-sided weakness.   Tell me about that weakness as part of the physical side of the brain injury.

Well, the left, I already had the numbness and everything was a lot worse, and it’s kind of like my whole left side I’ve been sitting on it wrong somehow, and it was all asleep.  And then on top of that, my shoulder injury was on the left side, so my left arm had a lot more problems with it due to the  tendon damage in the shoulder separation as well as the stroke symptoms.

You have three potential causes for a problem with your left side; one is you obviously landed on your left side, which is where the shoulder injury came from; you’ve had a stroke; you could’ve had some traumatic damage to your brain.  Do you know which of those three causes is causing your left-sided weakness?

I would assume that it would probably be the stroke because I’ve done a little bit of research on this stuff, but I don’t know what.

Do you have other one side of the body issues that would’ve caused by stroke as well or the physical side of the brain injury?

I don’t know.  I have something that never happens when I’m at a doctor, and it happened once when I was in the second hospital, and my occupational therapist saw it.  Sometimes on my right side, I get muscle tremors real bad, and I can’t control them, and it just takes maybe 10 to 15 minutes to calm them down to where I can use my right side well again.

While you were at Baptist did you get a number of therapies for the physical side of the brain injury?

Yes, sir.

Speech pathology?

I got a little bit of that.  They seemed more focused on me being able to somewhat take care of myself when I was released, which is understandable.  And they were kind of more directing their efforts towards, I guess, the alleviating my stroke and like getting me to where I could use both sides a little better equally – getting me to walking in and tying shoes and things like that.

That would’ve been more occupational therapy?

Yes, sir.  That would.

You were getting physical therapy as well for the physical side of the brain injury?

That was, the physical therapy was more the walking like up and down stairs.  They were having me step over cones and things like that.  And then the occupational would be when they had me just using my left arm because right after the accident, I couldn’t raise it higher than like maybe about that.

How is your range of motion now with the physical side of the brain injury?

It’s decent now.  It’s just, it really does hurt, so I try not to do it as much.  But if it’s a situation where I need to raise my hand over my head, I’ll do it, but.

It’s uncomfortable enough that you wouldn’t do it now just to show it to us?

I’d prefer not to.  I mean, I will, but I prefer not to.

Do you remember the process of relearning to walk?

 I do, but I mean, it wasn’t really so much the process.  I remember it’s just every day you can notice just a little improvement the more you did.  Once I left the hospital, I was getting, outpatient therapy twice a day.  But I would also take my wheelchair and walk to the corner of one block, sit in my chair until I could get up again, and then walk to the corner of the next one, sit down, and I just kept adding to that about every other day if I could.

You were using your wheelchair almost like you walk with a shopping cart? Your hands were in a position somebody wouldn’t have pushed you?

Yes, sir. Right.

This is something you were doing for the physical side of the brain injury  after you were discharged?

Right.  Yes, sir. Middle of August.

What did the speech therapy consist of?

I don’t know.  I didn’t really get that near as much.  Like I said, they were more worried about my initial, I guess, basic functions of life, just being able to bathe myself and dress and things like that.

Steven’s therapies for his physical side of the brain injury were far more limited than they probably should have been, yet the realities of his being discharged without family mandated that his activities of daily living (ADL’s) had to be prioritized.

Next in Part Six – Odd Personal Relationship Helped to Smooth Transition to the Real World

About the Author

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