Jessica's Journey - Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke at Ohio State

Crossing the finish line: Jessica’s road to recovery following traumatic brain injury, stoke and other medical challenges

InpatientRehab__BlogRTFEverything changed Memorial Day weekend 2014 for Jessica Gebhardt, who was 31 years old at the time. A severe car accident caused Jessica traumatic brain injury. She had to have a breathing tube. Her legs required bracing. As a complication of her injuries and medication, Jessica also suffered a stroke. She need a feeding tube, a tracheotomy and even had to have part of her skull removed to eliminate pressure caused by bleeding on her brain. It looked like a long, nearly impossible road to recovery.

Once Jessica was stable enough, she was moved from a Toledo hospital to Dodd Rehabilitation Hospital in Columbus, the inpatient rehabilitation center that is part of The Neurological Institute at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. When she first arrived, Jessica struggled to communicate. She had broken speech and difficulty understanding what was said to her. She often knew what she wanted to say, but couldn’t get the words out. Walking looked like a distant hope.  

But the rehabilitation team at Ohio State went to work—and so did Jessica.

Collaborating together, Jessica’s therapists designed a plan for recovery, including speech, occupational and physical therapy. It was not easy, but as her therapists explained, she was able to keep frustration in check and adopted an incredibly positive attitude. Again and again, Jessica tackled each aspect of rehabilitation. As a result of her hard work, Jessica left Dodd just eight weeks after her arrival and transitioned to several months of outpatient rehabilitation with Ohio State. Although unable to speak and walk with complete independence when she first returned home, Jessica kept her momentum forward, working independently with the help of her husband, Josh, who said “the time at Dodd laid the foundation and provided us with the guidance to help her continue improving.” Jessica eventually resumed work, began cooking again and enjoyed taking her dogs on walks.

She even set her sights on a more distant goal: the finish line of a 5K race. Of no surprise to anyone who had already witnessed her grit, Jessica soon crossed that finish line as well—with two of her Ohio State therapists alongside her to celebrate. It was a finish to remember, but it wasn’t the end. Fully expecting more victories ahead, Jessica continues making progress, gaining more strength and communication abilities every day. 

Jessica suffered a traumatic brain injury and additional complications, including a stroke, following a car accident Memorial Day weekend 2014. She and one of her therapists at Dodd Hall, a rehabilitation facility at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, share the story of her recovery and determination.

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