Working long hours as a department supervisor, 32-year-old Preston Allison of Killen, Alabama, lived for the weekends. He and his brother hit the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails whenever they had the chance.
One morning when the daring duo opted to ride the highways on their massive four-wheelers – without helmets – their day went from fun to frantic when a deer darted out in front of Preston’s vehicle. The impact was sudden, flinging Preston’s unprotected body onto the hard asphalt pavement.
Preston was found unconscious and was air lifted to Huntsville Hospital after his brother called 911. The hospital’s emergency team began work right away, noting a fractured skull, broken collarbone, three broken ribs, broken jaw and punctured lung. Preston’s prognosis was not a good one.
Preston remained unconscious, slipping into a coma for two months. His parents took turns sitting next to his bedside, talking to Preston, stroking his hand and hoping for a miracle. One afternoon, as his mother sat nearby, Preston opened his eyes, turned his head and gazed upon her face. He spoke only in a faint whisper, so she moved in closer, brushing the hair from his forehead. Clearly, carefully, Preston said to her, “I want to go fishing.” At that moment, she knew her son was out of the dark.
The hospital team stabilized Preston for admission to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of North Alabama in Huntsville, Ala. When the family arrived, Preston and his parents were taken under the team’s wing, cared for and comforted from the very first moment.
Preston’s parents remained at their son’s side, participating in therapy sessions to get their son moving, walking and eating again.
Preston’s first memory of his time at HealthSouth was during a visit to its day room. He saw others eating a meal, but he was on a liquid diet and was not able to eat solid foods. Speech therapy worked aggressively on his swallowing, in his room, one on one. After a few weeks, he was back to eating turkey sandwiches in the day room with the other patients--a milestone in his recovery.
Through consistent encouragement, intense therapy sessions and a structured plan, Preston made remarkable progress. His mother was amazed by his progress and still can’t thank his HealthSouth team enough for all it did.
“I’ll never forget what HealthSouth did for my son,” she says. “They went above and beyond what they had to do and they gave us hope.”
Today Preston continues to move forward, hoping to strengthen his short-term memory with time. He is back on the job, working 10-hour days, four days a week. And he enjoys a closer relationship with his two sons, Cole, 8 and Bryant, 4.
“If there’s one thing good out of all of this, it’s that I became a better person,” Preston commented. “Throughout my therapy, I was reminded to think about my children – work hard to get better for them. Before the accident, I was focused more on myself. Today, it’s all about my children. And I have HealthSouth to thank for that.”