Thomas R. Smith Jr.
Thomas R. Smith, Jr. came to MossRehab as in inpatient following a traumatic brain injury caused by an assault with a baseball bat. When he first arrived at MossRehab, Thomas’ body was severely debilitated—he could not walk, talk or take care of himself.
Thomas received comprehensive rehabilitation at MossRehab, including physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as training in life-management skills. Thomas now lives independently and has resumed many of his favorite activities.
Here is Thomas’ story:
The rehabilitation process presents big challenges
Before the injury I was a bartender and a waiter. I was very active.
When I was first brought to MossRehab I was still in a coma. When I woke up from the coma I was annoyed by everybody poking at me. I didn’t know where I was. I was seized-up and crippled and I couldn’t imagine why I was in there. I was told that I was assaulted and someone had hit me over the head.
As MossRehab, I received therapy and was getting better. I had started to walk again. But then I had a problem with a shunt in my brain and I had to get a new shunt put in. I remember going into the operation thinking, “Oh my God, just let me die.” I thought I was going to have to be in therapy all the time, constantly getting better only to have something go wrong again.
Thomas relearns things he once took for granted
I went to Einstein Medical Center, where I had a new shunt put in, and then I came back to MossRehab where I received occupational and physical therapy. I had to relearn how to do everything; how to walk and talk and even how to go to the bathroom. It was like being reborn again.
I was so excited when I could use the arm brace and be able to walk around my room on my own—to be independent a little bit. I got the best therapy and I figured, if I don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for me, so I did everything they told me to do.
The therapists were there for me completely. They helped me learn how to do my finances, how to use a checkbook. I wouldn’t have an apartment now had I not learned how to do my checkbook and everything else I learned from the occupational therapy.
Family involvement and a caring rehab staff make a big difference
My three sisters were there, too. It was like a full-time job they had to share to make sure I was taken care of properly. They had family meetings with my team at MossRehab.
Everyone at MossRehab made me feel like they were family. They were like my brothers and sisters, basically. They were always positive. I have a positive attitude, too, though I don’t know where it came from, to be honest with you. I wasn’t that way before.
The care I got at MossRehab was outstanding. The people who work there are so thoughtful and understanding. They care about everyone that walks in the door. It’s not just for me. I tell everybody, if you’ve got to go somewhere and you want to get better, go to MossRehab.
Thomas resumes an active lifestyle
Now I’m going to back to work. I go see shows, I like theater. I used to like dancing a lot. I can’t move as much as I could back then, but I still go out dancing. I’m getting my passport so I can go to Montreal and visit friends.
My advice to other people who find themselves in a similar situation would be to take it one day at a time and just keep going. Because there’s nothing you can’t do if you just put your mind to it.