A single moment can be life changing. A devoted family man, John Broderick was helping his brother move from his home in Quincy, MA, when he stumbled and fell down 14 stairs. He sustained severe head trauma, four fractured ribs, and a brain bleed, and was rushed into acute care. His injuries were extensive — so much so that the hospital chaplain, Father Ignatius, read 59-year-old John his last rites. Doctors warned his family that if he was to survive, John still might never walk or speak again.
John pulled through that harrowing time and came to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. While he was grateful to be alive, the right-handed former Little League coach and pitcher for his son, Robert, was dismayed to learn that he showed zero mobility on his entire right side. His foot, leg, hand, arm, and speech were severely affected by his Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
John at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, enjoying a visit from his daughter Britney and dog Butterball.
His Spaulding occupational therapist, Alana, used a Bioness device to send electrical pulses and stimulate the weak muscles on John’s right side. Incredibly, his hand and leg moved! “Seeing that changed everything for me,” John says. “I had truly lost hope and thought my condition was permanent. My faith grew leaps and bounds, and I realized my recovery was now possible at Spaulding.”
Donations to the Annual Fund help Spaulding invest in leading-edge technology and equipment for rehabilitation therapy. Your support makes all the difference for patients like John.
John’s physical therapist, Elise, “was always pushing [him] to do better, within constraints, of course.” One day she told John that they were going to attempt the stairs. Not the typical set of three or four wooden stairs with handrails in the therapy gym, however. Instead, Elise meant the stairwell between hospital floors.
It would be the first time John had approached a stairwell since his fall.
When he looked up at the stairs, a strong, unsettling feeling came over John. They reminded him of the stairwell where he had fallen. John was hesitant, and unsure if he could overcome his fear despite having made significant physical progress. In a flash of determination, he stood up, grabbed the left handrail, and climbed straight up the flight of concrete steps. Elise said, “John climbed those stairs like a champ.” It was another important moment in his physical and mental recovery.
While John’s recovery is ongoing, he’s home now and says he’s found a new life purpose through his TBI and recovery. He recently started a podcast for TBI survivors and families and wrote a book about his experience entitled “GRACE” — offering messages of hope and healing to others going through this journey.
Spaulding continues to play an important role in John’s recovery and life moving forward. He’s an avid participant in Spaulding Adaptive Sports, and he says the program “has shown me that I can still ride a bike — even though I didn't believe I would be able to ever again.”
Imagine the Possibilities
At a time when scientific advancements can help make the impossible possible, an investment in rehabilitation medicine has never been more necessary — or more promising.
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