Tracy Brophy is an independent 45-year-old woman, who worked at a local truck stop. When she was involved in a motor vehicle accident, Tracy’s life changed in an instant. Turning her vehicle around on the interstate, another vehicle struck Tracy’s from behind at 50 miles per hour. She was wearing her seatbelt and had to be extracted from her vehicle. Tracy initially complained of neck and back pain, for which she was placed in spinal precautions immediately. She did not lose consciousness.

Diagnostics revealed dislocation of Tracy’s C5 – C6, as well as T8 – T9 vertebral fractures, left rib fractures, a pneumothorax, and a splenic laceration. A CAT scan of Tracy’s head revealed no brain injury. Though she did not need surgery, Tracy did require a ventilator and eventually a tracheostomy.

When Tracy admitted to Advanced Care Hospital of Montana, she was off the ventilator, but still required oxygen. She could not tolerate a speaking valve to the tracheostomy, but could communicate by mouthing words and writing. A tube in her nose provided nutrition to Tracy’s stomach. She required maximum assistance for bed mobility. Therapy worked with Tracy on putting on and taking off her back brace, as well as increasing her mobility.

At the time of discharge, Tracy was at minimum assistance with bed mobility and contact guard assistance for sit-to-stand transfers. She could walk 275 feet with a front-wheeled walker. Tracy could tolerate the Nu-Step and other therapeutic exercises to improve her endurance and strength. Speech therapy assessed Tracy’s swallowing and was able to initiate oral intake six days after admission. Tracy’s tracheostomy was taken out and she could eat a regular diet with thin liquids.

Tracy discharged to an inpatient rehabilitation facility. There, she would receive a more focused, higher frequency of therapies to further advance her independence. Tracy’s ultimate goal is to be safe and independent in her own environment.

While at the time of writing, Tracy was not yet able to return to work, she is hopeful that will change after her next appointment. We wish Tracy the very best in her continued return to independence!