John's story

John Parker in the therapy gym walking on the treadmill with the aid of a body weight support harness wearing a mask.

John Parker was an active member of his community and a nursing student – until a motor vehicle accident turned his life upside down.

Indeed, the car accident was very serious. John, only 21-years-old, sustained a traumatic brain injury and abdominal trauma. He had cognitive issues, weakness, and impaired motor control plus reduced feeling on the left side of his body.

Upon admission to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton, John described balance and memory as his two biggest challenges. He required help for everyday tasks like getting in and out of bed and walking short distances with a walker. It was also difficult for him to speak louder than a whisper. “Getting used to my body again” was John’s initial goal when he started intensive therapy.

Physical, occupational and speech therapies were all critical in John’s recovery.

During his stay, John benefitted from a range of hands-on therapies and innovative technologies to retrain his strength and balance. John’s therapy program included gait training with a body-weight support treadmill and aquatics therapy. His care team also focused on improving his independence using a virtual reality system, kitchen activities and computer-based tasks. John enjoyed the pool exercises especially.

John also participated in group sessions with other patients that included a group focused on education and resources for brain injury survivors. “I liked talking to people about how they experienced certain things that they were going through,” John said. “I think that helped me a lot with what I was going through.”

A big milestone in John’s rehabilitation was walking without the aid of a walker for the first time. After two weeks, John was walking without a device and climbing stairs with supervision. John recalled the excitement he felt about his progress in his speech: “I think working on my speaking voice helped a get more confident talking.”

John’s family was a constant source of support throughout his rehabilitation. He acknowledged they were instrumental in his success. His family enthusiastically participated in Kessler’s hands-on training sessions to be able to assist him with daily activities at home.

He advises other brain injury survivors “to keep trying no matter what…keep giving it your best effort and eventually it will get better.”

Upon discharge, John planned to continue to work on being more independent at home and return to nursing school.

“John’s positive outlook, engagement and willingness to try challenging activities continues to inspire those around him,” said one of his therapists.