In early July, Brandon Jackson had much to anticipate. The 33-year-old and his wife, Heather, were awaiting the birth of their daughter, Izzy, who would join eight-year-old Adrianna and three-year-old Abel. During the week, Brandon sold and installed blinds. On weekends, the family enjoyed hiking local trails.
On Brandon’s birthday, the Jacksons were driving home from shopping when a pickup truck rammed their car head-on.
“The next thing I remember was waking up and being taken by an ambulance to UCMC,” Brandon said. “My dad had called to let me know that Heather was being flown to a hospital in Kettering and that both of my children were being taken by another ambulance to Children’s.”
All had serious injuries, but miraculously survived. Heather and the kids soon returned home, but Brandon’s injures included broken ribs, sternum and knee. His doctors recommended further medical rehabilitation.
On July 31, Brandon transferred to TriHealth Rehabilitation Hospital. His goals included using a wheelchair, crutches and eventually walking. “At first, I could not dress myself or move around in bed without help,” Brandon said. “I couldn’t walk at all or even move my left leg.”
Physical therapists worked with Brandon on strengthening exercises to improve knee movement. They taught him to use the crutches safely, gradually increasing the distance Brandon progressed as his strength and endurance improved. He learned how to negotiate curbs and flights of stairs. Eventually, Brandon could tackle steps, continuously practicing for the return to his two-story home. Therapists also deployed gradual strengthening and range of motion exercises for his injured leg, which would help promote healing.
“I didn’t expect to be able to do what I can do now, which includes walking as far as I’d ever need to go using my crutches,” said Brandon. “The rehab team here has helped push me to reach beyond my goals and made me feel like I can do anything. It started off slow and built every day. I got better and better and can do more today than I could yesterday.”
Occupational therapists trained Brandon on safe showering, cooking and light housekeeping activities, such as folding laundry while standing and picking up clothes. Everyday tasks were made easier with adaptive equipment, such as a reacher – a rod with a hook that makes it easier to grasp items at a distance.
Brandon’s family was essential to the recovery process. “My mom even came in for family training to help me to practice getting in and out of the car safely with my therapists present,” he said. “They also included Heather, who is back home. She was able to be involved in my care partner meeting to discuss the next steps.”
After two weeks of video visits with his family, Brandon was ready to return home, play with his children and support Heather who is doing home therapy. He looks forward to sleeping in his own bed, returning to work and going for a hike once everyone has healed.
Brandon, who had surgery after departing our hospital, plans to continue therapy at an outpatient clinic.
The last few months, he said, have imparted a significant lesson: “I can overcome obstacles far easier than I’ve ever given myself credit for.