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Getting Back in the Game

August 14, 2008 started out as an ordinary day for Devin Crockett, a bright, athletic, 16 year old. After attending a rigorous soccer practice in the morning, he accompanied his dad, Darrien, to a dentist appointment. While driving down the road, with Devin at the wheel of the family’s sedan, they could not have anticipated what would happen next. Witnesses say that without warning, the Crockett’s car crossed the center line and struck a delivery truck. The impact caused horrific damage to the Crockett’s vehicle. The entire front and driver’s side of the car was destroyed while the roof of the car had been peeled back. The police and medical personnel arriving on the scene were certain there would be fatalities.

Darrien and Devin were both unconscious. Awakening in the emergency room, Darrien was told of his minor injuries and the concussion he had suffered, and then received the news about his son. Devin’s injuries were more serious. He had suffered a concussion.  The bone above his left elbow had shattered and was protruding through the skin while his right hand was broken. His left knee cap had been split and he had suffered deep abrasions below his knee. He had also fractured the 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae in the back of his neck.

Surgery was performed immediately on Devin in hopes of setting his broken bones and to determine the extent of the damage to his left arm. The surgeons concluded that a main nerve in his arm had been severely traumatized and a nerve specialist was called in prior to perform a second surgery. The four hour procedure resulted in the installation of 20 screws and two plates in his arm to reset the bone. Devin lay heavily medicated and in excruciating pain, yet the doctors seemed optimistic about his chances of regaining full use of his left arm and the other injured extremities.

After one week in the acute care hospital, Devin was transferred to Marianjoy for intensive inpatient therapy. He was unable to walk, his right hand and left arm were casted, and his left hand hung limply from his wrist, unable to grip or function properly. His neck was in a brace. Once his treatment team was assembled, his recovery began. Devin worked with his therapists to slowly regain movement in his fingers, eventually being able to pick up and grip objects with his right hand. Despite his leg being immobilized, his physical therapists worked with him to improve his strength. After five days of inpatient therapy, it was determined that the casts on his left arm and right hand could be removed.

“Devin was excited about having the casts removed, but his therapists, well we could tell they were just as excited,” smiles Darrien. “They knew it meant he was healing quickly, but it also gave them more flexibility in working with his left arm without the restrictions of the cast. They could now increase the amount of therapy he was getting to help the recovery process. It was a good sign.”

Within one week of arriving at Marianjoy, Devin was discharged from inpatient and immediately began outpatient therapy.

“We were pleased that some of the same therapists that worked with him in inpatient would be caring for him in outpatient as well,” remarks Darrien. “They already knew Devin and his condition, and were familiar with his progress. They also had an established relationship with Devin which helped make the transition a smooth one.”

Upon beginning outpatient therapy, Devin also returned to school on a part-time basis. Disappointment came however in knowing that he would not be able to play sports for the rest of the school year.

It’s been nearly five months since Devin began outpatient therapy. Though he wore a neck brace for three months, the fractures in his neck seemed to have healed but doctors will continue to monitor the vertebrae for any additional issues that may occur. He has regained full use of his right hand and though his left arm and hand have improved significantly, he will continue to receive occupational therapy in the hopes of a full recovery. Devin and his physical therapist have even worked to get his strength back in his left leg and he’s starting to run and jump again.

Devin’s looking forward to returning to sports and though he was tentative at first, has even gotten behind the wheel again. When asked about his experience at Marianjoy, Devin doesn’t hesitate.

“Because of my injuries, I was in a lot of pain while I was here,” he explains. “But I knew I’d get better. The therapists really got me through.  They were encouraging and kept pushing me. They gave me the tools I needed to recover.”

“People would tell us how blessed we are to have survived such a horrible accident,” remarks Darrien. “I must say that it’s made me rethink my life and I can definitely see a change in Devin as well. There is a spiritual awareness in him. I can see that he really thinks more intensely about things now, including his Christian surroundings. Since the accident, he’s eluded to making a stronger commitment to the Christian life. That’s a wonderful blessing to have come forth from such an awful situation.”

Darrien continues. “All of Devin’s doctors and specialists played a large part in his quick recovery. We are so pleased by his progress. The doctors attribute it to his being young and athletic, but I also believe a big portion of his recovery is attributed to the care he received at Marianjoy. We could see progress at every stage.  They were comforting and patient, giving my wife and me the time to adjust to what had happened. They gave us such reassurance, while keeping Devin’s needs first. They worked at his pace, and their care for both him and my family was truly genuine. It was evident that they wanted to see him get better.

“I also can’t say enough about the support he received from his friends. They would visit him everyday when he was in the hospital and were there every step of the way, lifting his spirits. And our neighbors and friends were there for us too. My family and I will not forget their support.”

“I bring Devin to outpatient therapy,” notes Darrien. “While I sit in the waiting room, I have the chance to meet other parents whose children are going through their own recovery process. Though their stories may be different, as a parent, you can completely relate to what they’re going through—their feelings and emotions. We’re all looking for our children to heal. And Marianjoy is a good place to do just that.”