As the regional safety manager for dairy farms, Steve Zink traveled to production plants frequently and was no stranger to rental cars. Yet, on a routine business trip in August 2014,
Steve was exiting his rental car when the door quickly came back toward him, hitting him in the head and knee. While his knee hurt from the impact, he didn’t give a second thought to his head.
Over the next five weeks, Steve noticed a gradual decline in health. He had episodes of confusion, slurred speech and falling asleep during meetings. One day he couldn’t stand up
from his chair at work. Soon after, he fell to the floor when getting out of bed. His wife, working in occupational medicine, called 911 immediately. A number of tests in the emergency
room determined that Steve had a brain bleed and would need surgery right away.
An emergency craniotomy was performed to stop the bleed and relieve pressure on his brain. He spent four weeks in the acute hospital before he was ready for rehabilitation. Steve’s
trauma surgeon recommended MidAmerica Rehab Hospital, which was close to home. So he agreed to go.
When Steve arrived at MidAmerica, he was bed-ridden and needed help just to sit up. During his planning meeting with his rehabilitation team, he remembers being told he could stay
in a wheelchair, walk with a walker or cane, or return to regular walking. It was all up to him.
“Steve became very motivated,” one of Steve’s therapists said. “On admission he said. ‘I’m leaving Friday,’ which was three days away!”
Steve remained extremely driven to get better so he could walk again and return to work. Initially he needed physical, occupational and speech therapies using advanced technologies such as Dynavision™ to improve cognitive skills. Following his own “aggressive track” of rehabilitation, Steve was discharged home from MidAmerica after 10 days, walking out of the hospital with a walker, which he only needed for one week. He participated in outpatient therapy for eight weeks and soon was able to return back to work.
“The therapists were professional and really listened to what I wanted to achieve, giving me control over my recovery,” Steve said. “They were all very encouraging and had very positive attitudes.”