Keith Jenkins: Combining the values of karate with rehabilitation

Brain Injury Success stories
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Keith Jenkins felt like family and gives gratitude to LaDonna Nash, a certified occupational therapy assistant, for some of his success.

Keith Jenkins of Hinesville, Georgia is a husband, father of four, city councilman, business owner, a deputy with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and a karate instructor. Needless to say, he is a man who wears many hats and has a cell phone that is always ringing.

His busy life unexpectedly came to an almost screeching halt in October 2017 due to a brain aneurysm. 

Jenkins was preparing for a class in his karate studio when one of his students entered the room and left. He thought his teacher was sleeping. Jenkins, feeling unwell and exhausted, canceled class and headed home to get some rest. 

When he woke up the next morning, he still didn’t feel right. He and his wife decided it was time to see a doctor. Jenkins’ blood pressure was out of control. His doctor sent sent him to the hospital to get an MRI. Jenkins and his wife were almost back home after getting the MRI when he got a call saying he should return to the hospital immediately; he was having a brain aneurysm. Upon arrival, a helicopter was waiting to take him to Savannah for treatment. 

The aneurysm left Jenkins struggling with balance, speech and cognition, so he was transferred to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Savannah for inpatient rehabilitation. Despite being a man of many talents, there were still a few things he had to learn during his stay. Jenkins had to learn to relax, be patient, keep a clear mind and slow down while his body was recovering. 

On the other hand, he also had the opportunity to intertwine some of his karate principles like discipline and the importance of knowing your body into his therapy, which he felt made a big difference in his recovery. 

“When you understand and know your body, you’re going to accomplish a lot of things,” Jenkins said. “Combining therapy with what I knew from my karate skills gave me will power, courage to move forward and not to give up on myself.”

Jenkins’ skills definitely paid off. He says he’s 90% back to normal and attributes much of his success to his team at Encompass Health Savannah, especially LaDonna Nash, a certified occupational therapy assistant and Amy Cater, PT, an admissions liaison.

“I felt like I was home. I felt like I was around people who really cared and wanted to see me get better,” he said.

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