Drew’s Story: Recovering from Brain Injury

Brain Injury Success stories
Drew Parker wearing his medal he received after completing the Austin half-marathon.

At 28 years of age Drew Parker had already achieved some lofty goals. He had completed law school at the University of Texas in Austin, passed his bar exams and was preparing to start a new job. He was also an avid runner and biker, always pushing himself to a higher level.

In January, Parker was enjoying a brief break between law school and his first professional job. While hanging out with friends in a popular Austin gathering place, he spontaneously hopped on a Lime scooter for a quick ride. Two weeks later, he woke up in the hospital with no recollection of what had happened. He later learned he had suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and had been placed in a medically induced coma to allow his brain to heal.

After two weeks in the hospital on a ventilator, Parker was unable to walk or perform self-care. It was clear he wasn’t ready to be discharged to home. His doctors recommended he transfer to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Austin for rehabilitation.

Learning to Pace Himself

When Parker arrived at Encompass Health Austin, he required significant help with cognition and memory. He also needed two people to assist him in walking safely. However, he was determined to get back to his old routine.

As soon as he was off the medication in the hospital, Parker began reading again. He plunged into an 800-page book, reading 70-80 pages a day. Although he was eager to get back to his old lifestyle, he found he had to pace himself. “Rehab is hard after being in a vegetative state. I had to ease back into my body before I could push myself,” he said.

While at Encompass Health Austin, Parker’s days were spent participating in therapies that would help build back his strength and enable him to get back to activities of daily living. He progressed in walking on his own and in self-care during his stay. His thinking and memory skills also continued to improve as he worked with his therapists. While at the rehabilitation hospital, he received a combination of speech, occupational and physical therapy at least three hours a day, five days a week.

Upon his discharge, Parker felt like he was almost back to his normal self, but he realized he had to be careful about pushing himself too hard physically. He continued most of his normal activities—just at a slower pace.

Taking on New Challenges

Since his recovery, Parker has started running again, completing the Austin half-marathon, and has participated in some grueling biking competitions, such as the Belgian Waffle ride and a Life Time Grand Prix mountain bike race. He also challenged himself by retaking his bar exam to compare the results with his first exam. “I didn’t do as well, but I also only had two weeks to study,” he said.

As for the future, Parker is currently involved in some major ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) programs and plans to return to coaching baseball for 12 and 13 year olds. He acknowledges he has worked hard to get to where he is but is grateful for the help he received along the way and would like to share his good fortune with others.

“My ability to be resilient and push myself definitely contributed to my recovery, but I feel blessed to be here. With all I have, sometimes I wonder if I’m really giving enough back,” he said.

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