Retired Texas Ranger Receives Specialized Rehabilitation Following a Debilitating Brain Injury
By Kaci L. Eaves, Physician Liaison, HealthSouth, LIVING WELL Magazine
George Turner has spent over 26 years of his life in the midst of high-profile crime investigations that have required the utmost mental focus and concentration. As one of the elite Texas Rangers, Turner patrolled 44 counties, investigated murder cases, and was even assigned to the investigation of the Branch Davidian Compound in 1993. His appointment as a Texas Ranger came after an excellent record as a highway patrolman and, perhaps more importantly, a clean bill of health.
Mr. Turner, 59, of Cleburne, has always been the picture of health: he was active as a Texas Ranger, he stayed fit, and was well known for his sharp wit. Somehow, that was not enough. In August of 2010, Mr. Turner made an appointment with the neurologist after having several days of confusion and slurred speech. The neurologist immediately sent him to the hospital emergency room. “I was out of sorts, so my wife took me to the doctor. He said, ‘You need to go to the hospital now,’” Turner says.
While at the hospital, Mr. Turner underwent testing that showed a near occlusion of the left middle cerebral artery and a hemorrhage in the left parietal region of his brain. This resulted in visual “obscurations” of his vision in the right eye, a loss of short-term memory, as well as speech deficits and an unsteady gait. It was a hard pill for Mr. Turner to swallow, literally. Not only did he feel frustrated at his situation since he had been so active prior to the stroke, it had left him with difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia.
After a few days at the acute care hospital, Mr. Turner and his wife, an ER nurse, made the joint decision for him to come to HealthSouth City View, in southwest Fort Worth, for inpatient rehabilitation. Thirty-six days later, Mr. Turner discharged home and began the outpatient acquired brain injury (ABI) program at HealthSouth City View.
Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until noon, he spends time in the brain injury group session with other patients who have acquired brain injuries. Mr. Turner has a memory book that helps with his short-term memory loss and a to-do list to fill in where his memory has gaps. Around noon, Mr. Turner and the rest of the brain injury participants have lunch at the HealthSouth cafeteria and foster their social skills. They then participate in occupational and/ or physical therapy to restore their prior level of strength, function and independence. After that, Mr. Turner has “free time” for him to practice managing his time independently. He watches videos specific to his interests, plays computer games that aid in cognitive processing speeds, and prepares his to-do list for the rest of the week.
The component of the brain injury program that has aided the most in his recovery is the time he has spent with the interactive metronome. The interactive metronome is a machine used to improve the neurological processes of motor planning, sequencing and processing in brain injury patients. Tamara Atwell, MA, CCC/SLP, who works with Mr. Turner in the ABI program, says he despised the metronome when he first began the program, and Mr. Turner agrees. After weeks of frustration, however, Mr. Turner’s attention and response time has improved greatly, and he admits, “The metronome helps a lot.”
Director of Brain Injury Services at HealthSouth City View, Dee Smith says that when Mr. Turner began the ABI program, his comprehension level was at 40%. After three months in the program, his comprehension level is over 70%. “He has made huge gains considering the severity of his stroke,” Dee says. Dee and Tamara both agree that Mr. Turner’s strong work ethic and willing participation—he has not missed a day of therapy—as well as family support have all contributed to the success he has had following his stroke. Mr. Turner says, “I give the credit to HealthSouth.” It is apparent that the patient, his loved ones, and his therapists all deserve the credit, as they have worked hard to help this Texas hero return to the highest possible quality of life.
For more information regarding inpatient and outpatient brain injury rehabilitation, as well as other services offered at HealthSouth, please call 817-370-4700, or visit healthsouth.com. For patients or families seeking more information regarding strokes, consult Living with Stroke: a Guide for Families by Richard C. Senelick, MD. (Complimentary copies of Dr. Senelick’s book are available at both HealthSouth Fort Worth locations.)