Martin’s story: Returning to an active life

Success stories Wellness

At 81, Martin Edwards Jr. was active and exercised daily, rarely missing a workout at the club near his home in Memphis, Tennessee.

If it wasn’t for that, Martin is doubtful he would have survived the June 7, 2020 accident that left him in the hospital for nearly two months.

I was very fortunate. If I had not been in such great physical condition, I would have not made it. Conditioning saved my life.

Martin Edwards

The accident

Martin was golfing in Cashiers, North Carolina with a friend. While driving the golf cart, he blacked out. When he woke, he was at the bottom of a creek bed crushed underneath the cart. With the help of his friend, he was able to get out and was airlifted to a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.

When he arrived, he had a heart attack and several mini strokes. It was a stroke, his doctors believe, that caused him to black out in the golf cart in the first place. In addition to being treated for stroke and the heart attack, Martin received extensive injuries from the golf cart accident. His rib cage was crushed, and he had internal bleeding.

“He had to have two major surgeries,” his wife, Nancy, recalled. “He broke all his ribs, and they had to completely reconstruct them so he could fully breathe.”

Martin Edwards works with his physical therapist to rebuild his strength and return to walking.

Relearning the basics

Martin was in the hospital for nearly two months, six weeks of which he was in a coma. When he was in stable enough condition, he was transferred to Methodist Healthcare near his home in Memphis to continue his recovery.

He had a long way to go, Martin and Nancy recalled. After being in a coma for nearly six weeks, automatic tasks were challenging, almost impossible.

“When you’re asleep for that long, your brain forgets how to function,” Nancy said. “He had to learn to swallow and speak again, and then he moved to building back his strength and walking.”

The next step in his recovery would be therapy. At the advice of a neighbor, who is also a doctor, Nancy insisted that therapy take place at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Memphis, a partner of Methodist Healthcare.

Getting moving again

There, Martin worked with a care team that included physical, speech and occupational therapists. Once he was able to relearn the basics, he and his care team worked on building back his strength, so he could return home independently.

After working on balance and strength he progressed from a wheelchair to a walker, and then walking with a cane.

“I don’t have a cane now,” Martin said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for rehab. They were very diligent.”

Getting active again

After Martin was discharged from Encompass Health Memphis, he returned home. Nearly seven months after his accident, he’s living independently. He’s also headed to the gym again, but instead of the club, he’s getting his workouts through the outpatient program at Encompass Health Memphis. He said he continues to grow stronger and is thankful he was able to recover from an accident that could have taken his life.