Back to home August 2014
Road to Recovery Leads through Trauma Center
“None of the people in the group ever expected to be there,” Mark says. “What they find out is that certain aspects of their condition really aren’t that bad.”
Climbing down a ladder from a rooftop should take a minute. For trauma survivor Mark Otto, the journey took months.
In 2011, Mark was making repairs to his Lehigh Acres home when he realized he forgot a tool. He stepped onto the ladder, slipped and fell more than 15 feet to the concrete below. By the time a man who was walking in the area got to him, Mark wasn’t breathing. A call to 911 saved Mark’s life, but he was in critical condition.
Mark suffered a traumatic brain injury, a punctured lung and broken neck, back, wrist and collarbone. He spent 35 days in the Lee Memorial Health System Trauma Center at Lee Memorial Hospital, before moving to a rehabilitation center, then to the Shepherd Center, a hospital in Atlanta that specializes in brain and spinal cord injuries. He spent much of his recovery in a wheelchair. His wife, Jackie, did not know if he would make a full recovery.
After months of therapy, Mark regained his cognitive and motor skills. Today the former golf pro still hits the links as a volunteer for the Shepherd Center; and volunteers at the Lee Memorial Health System Trauma Center, where he and Jackie mentor other survivors who attend the Trauma Support Group. “It’s a small way I can pay back over time,” Mark says.
The Trauma Support Group helps people recover from and overcome injuries they sustained during a traumatic event. It is a place for survivors and their families to grieve, and get real advice from patients who have had the same experiences and the support they need as they move forward with the rest of their lives. Mark and other survivors are proof that, although a serious injury creates changes, life can, and does continue.
“None of the people in the group ever expected to be there,” Mark says. “They don’t know what to expect and they are afraid of the unknown. What they find out is that certain aspects of their condition really aren’t that bad.”
Mark and Jackie maintain a positive attitude because they know that time is a healer. In the three years since Mark’s accident, he has made almost a full recovery. He is active physically and has no lingering neurological damage. “I’m pretty much back to normal,” he says. “The most lingering effect is that sometimes I now have maudlin (emotional) days—but more than anything, I’m really grateful. Without the Lehigh (Acres) paramedics and the trauma team, I would not be here.”
Lee Memorial Health System Trauma Center