Just after driving away, 23-year-old Eric Campbell was in a head-on collision with a tree. Within a minute, Eric’s fiancée, Jessica, learned that Eric had been ejected from his passenger’s seat and was lying unconscious near the tree, only ¼ of a mile away from where she had last seen him happy and full of life. Jessica raced to the accident site and held Eric’s hand. Just as life-flight arrived, Eric began to seize. “It all happened so fast. It was pretty scary to see Eric having a seizure,” remembers Jessica.
The Emergency Department at Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend quickly determined that Eric had suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. His brain tissue and blood vessels were damaged as a result of the impact. Eric would spend the next 2 ½ weeks unconscious and on a ventilator, receiving the very best TBI care focused on minimizing secondary damage from swelling or reduced oxygen supply to the brain.
Once stabilized, Eric was transferred to Vibra Specialty Hospital where he would continue to get 24/7 physician oversite, augmented by a multi-disciplinary team of pulmonologists, therapists, and ancillary support services. Eric was soon freed from his tracheostomy and feeding tube and was ready for rigorous physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
Vibra’s skilled physical therapy team recognized that the brain needs a balance of stimulation and rest to facilitate recovery. Carefully observing Eric’s performance and recognizing each emerging sign of recovery, the staff found the correct balance. That balance included family, an important factor in Eric’s life. With a relieved smile, Eric’s father, Moe, recalls a turning point in Eric’s recovery. “Alex Kurata from physical therapy invited Jessica and me to the gym, and together with Eric, we played a simple game of catch. It was the first time we saw Eric laugh.”
Eric moved very quickly through the recovery stages. Upon his arrival at Vibra, Eric was only minimally responsive and required total assistance for daily activities. At the time of his discharge 2 weeks later, he was walking, talking, eating, and required very little help. “In my 25 years of working with brain injury recovery, Eric is experiencing one of the fastest recoveries I have ever seen,” said an astounded Mike Sandmann, Vibra’s Director of Physical Therapy.
Dacy, one of Eric’s CNAs, put it another way. “When you’re around sick people all the time,” she said, “you sometimes forget that miracles can happen. Eric is one of those miracles.”
Now back at home, Eric is looking forward to doing the things he most loves: hunting, fishing, and camping. And though he’s still not quite ready to drive, that doesn’t stop him from telling Jessica how to drive. “That’s something he’s always done,” says Jessica with a laugh, “so I know now that Eric is