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John’s Story

Traumatic Brain Injury

When seconds counted, John discovered just how much he could count on University of Cincinnati Medical Center’s Level I Trauma Center.

On May 9, 2011, the Loveland resident and Mason police sergeant was thrown over the handlebars of his bicycle, suffering a traumatic brain injury.

John had just gone out on a routine evening bike ride with his dog. He doesn’t remember the accident, but a witness saw him wobble and fall.

He was sent by UC Health Air Care helicopter to UC Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with an epidural hematoma and immediately taken to the operating room. Part of his skull had to be removed to relieve the pressure caused by a blood buildup.

“From there, we took it one day at a time,” said Jordan Bonomo, MD, neurointensivist and director of criticalcare for emergency medicine at UC Medical Center and assistant professor at the UC College of Medicine. “There was no guarantee that he would live, much less return to police work. Until a patient stabilizes, we encourage families to be faithful and hopeful.”

The most medically advanced monitoring systems available anywhere in the world for traumatic brain injury were deployed at John’s bedside in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit (NSICU), including an oxygen saturation monitor for the brain and continuous 24/7 electroencephalography brain monitoring to detect silent-seizure activity.

Bonomo says it was a true collaborative effort that kept John alive, with everyone playing a vital role: emergency medicine, trauma surgery, neurosurgery, neurocritical care, and after he was stabilized, physical medicine and rehabilitation.

John spent 14 days in the NSICU, fighting for his life. As he began to recover, he struggled through complications, including pneumonia.

He was released from UC Medical Center May 23 and transferred to UC Health Drake Center where the hard work of inpatient and outpatient therapies—physical, occupational and speech—would begin.

When he arrived at Drake, John was unable to walk, dress or bathe himself. He displayed significant cognitive and memory deficits. He didn’t know where he was or what month or year it was. He wore a helmet at all times to protect his brain, because his skull was still missing a section of bone.

Frustrated with his progress, John experienced a breakthrough over Memorial Day weekend when he made the conscious decision to focus all his energy on working with his therapists to get better, go home and return to work. His resolve paid off. Working intensely with his therapists and physician, Sheital Bavishi, DO, UC Health physical medicine and rehabilitation physician and assistant professor at the UC College of Medicine, he quickly accomplished two goals: walking 1,000 feet without assistance and managing his personal care.


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