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!