Success Stories

Wade Ohnheiser

A former patient, Wade Ohnheiser joined the staff at NBRRH. He is seen here receiving the “Passionate Patient Caregiver of the Month” award for February 2019.

Wade Ohnheiser, 44, was living a busy life when he suffered a stroke that changed his life forever. Prior to his stroke, Wade worked almost 80 hours per week for an architectural millwork firm. Wade designed, built, and installed custom granite cabinetry for large businesses. Although he lived a busy life, he knew he suffered from high blood pressure. Not feeling symptomatic, Wade didn’t feel the need to take his blood pressure medication. Ultimately, that caused his stroke.

Working in the garage, Wade began to feel different. His right arm and leg would not move and he was unable to speak correctly. Wade thought he was only suffering from exhaustion. Three hours later the symptoms hadn’t subsided. Wade’s family convinced him to go to the hospital. Upon arrival, his blood pressure was 248/198 and the doctors said he suffered from a left basal pontine stroke.

Once medically stable, Wade transferred to New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital for intense and aggressive therapy. As a result of the stroke, Wade could not walk or use his right hand. Wade was motivated to begin therapy, eager to regain the use of his right side. Wade also had difficulty with his speech, including thought patterns, word finding, and problem-solving.

Wade’s biggest motivation, though, was his 6-year-old daughter. He wanted to return home and make her school lunches again. During his stay, Wade’s daughter had a school play that he did not want to miss. This presented a great opportunity for Wade’s recovery. The therapy staff used the play as an activity which allowed Wade to practice reintegrating into the community with real-life situations he may encounter on a daily basis once he returned home.

After a few weeks at the hospital, Wade successfully discharged home, ambulating with the use of a walker. The work was not over though—Wade returned for outpatient therapy services for the next three months. He continued working on his walking. Wade also learned methods and devices to make life easier and to adjust to life’s new circumstances. Wade always gave everything he had during his therapy sessions. He said, “If you give 100% to everything, it’ll take care of itself with time.”

Time and determination is what Wade needed. He graduated from outpatient a few months later and no longer needed to use a walker to ambulate. Wade also regained the use of his hand, so he felt it was time to find a job to contribute to society and to his family. He applied for a patient care technician position at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital because he wanted to “become a part of the team that gave him so much.”

Today, Wade has held several positions at the facility, including patient care technician, therapy technician, and currently, maintenance mechanic. He enjoys the opportunity to bring patients joy. Wade uses his situation as an opportunity to relate to patients and give them hope that life can return to normal, even if it is a new normal.

Wade said, “My life has been a blessing and I owe it all to this facility.” His drive and determination are what made him successful not only has a patient, but now as an employee. Wade is a huge asset to the facility. He has been awarded “Passionate Patient Caregiver of the Month” numerous times and was even awarded “Passionate Patient Caregiver of the Year” in 2017.

“I’m alive and I’m grateful. Every extra day I get on Earth is a blessing, and I’m most appreciative of the opportunity to work here,” Wade said.

We are blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of Wade’s recovery journey as well as the opportunity to work with him now on a daily basis!

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Mark Cook

 

A car accident nearly took Mark Cook’s life, and left him with a traumatic brain injury.

At the age of 47, Mark Cook almost lost his life in a motor vehicle accident. When Mark arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center’s (BAMC) Level 1 Trauma Center he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

Mark spent ten days in a coma. Fortunately, he wouldn’t require a craniotomy to relieve the pressure in his brain. The doctors did not think he would be able to survive the surgery. But, the pressure in his brain was increasing. It seemed that was the only option. Mark’s wife of 15 years recalls yelling at him, saying, “you are not allowed to leave me!” She could not imagine life without him. They still had so many hopes, plans and dreams to accomplish together. She begged him to stay strong and fight.

Three hours later, the pressure in Mark’s brain miraculously decreased. The doctors said he would no longer need the surgery. Mark remained at BAMC for two months while he gained medical stability.

Mark and his wife knew the road to recovery was going to be a long road. Wheelchair bound, Mark had to relearn how to walk, talk, and stand. He also needed to relearn how to perform activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, eating, dressing, and toileting. While at BAMC, Mark’s social worker connected him with the Texas Health & Human Services’ Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services program. The program assists eligible people who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) to function independently in their home and community by providing funding.

Through this program, Mark admitted to a rehabilitation hospital in Austin for four months. Post-acute brain injury rehabilitation for three months followed, to aid in his transition home. Mark continued to work hard to regain his strength. To function independently in the community, Mark knew more therapy was necessary.

That led Mark to New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. Mark began outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy at NBRRH. On his first day, Mark unsteadily walked in using a cane. Due to his injury, Mark had trouble using his right hand. Occupational therapy worked on that aspect, as well as his activities of daily living. Additionally, Mark’s speech and cognition were impaired. Speech therapy helped him with thought processing, reasoning, and memory.

A large part of Mark’s success was due to his wife’s untiring support and encouragement. She watched him progress little by little with each therapy session. She continued to be Mark’s biggest cheerleader throughout this journey. Mark’s positive outlook on life despite his injury inspired the therapists and staff at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “Mark was always cheerful, motivated, and eager to participate in therapy,” said Sarah, Mark’s physical therapist. “He always brought a smile to our faces every time we treated him.”

Six months later, Mark continues to have a positive attitude as he graduates from our outpatient program. A year and a half after the accident, Mark now walks independently without an assistive device. His cognition, memory, and speech have improved tremendously. Rehabilitation isn’t over yet though—Mark plans to continue a home exercise program to maintain his level of independence.

Prior to his brain injury, Mark enjoyed playing the guitar and ukulele. He plans to continue playing music in the future now that he has better usage of his right arm. Mark and his wife also plan to travel throughout the United States to see and experience new adventures together.

Mark has made so much progress throughout his time with us and we look forward to seeing where his adventures will take him next!

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