From Brain Injury to Graduations, Sid Fights to Be There for His Family

For Navy veteran Sid Lord, being active was always a part of his life. The former airline pilot would use layovers to run triathlons and marathons across the world.

“I’ve always been active whether it was running, biking or just moving with my kids,” said Lord, 53.

In early 2018, Lord was biking in his neighborhood in The Woodlands when he fell off his bicycle. Paramedics rushed him to Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center where he remained in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for more than a month, mostly unresponsive to doctors, family and friends. Although wearing his helmet, he sustained a serious traumatic brain injury, broken hip and several broken ribs. One broken rib pierced his lung, causing fluid to enter. For weeks while he was in the ICU, Lord was unable to move the right side of his body.

Once stable enough to leave the ICU, he was admitted to TIRR Memorial Hermann.

Beginning the Journey Back to His Active Life

“When my dad first got to TIRR Memorial Hermann, he had regained some of his movement but it was extremely limited,” said Annemarie Lord, Sid’s oldest daughter. “He was in a wheelchair and unable to do virtually anything for himself. He couldn’t dress himself or brush his teeth or hair and needed assistance to get into his wheelchair.

The traumatic brain injury had affected Sid’s ability to eat, talk, walk and speak.

“Mr. Lord came to TIRR Memorial Hermann with some of the most significant medical complications one can have after a traumatic brain injury,” said Dr. Cindy Ivanhoe, attending physician with the Brain Injury and Stroke Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann. “He is a perfect example of what happens when someone can access necessary medical rehabilitation, integrated medical care and rehabilitation services.  He is also an inspiration to those of us who are in the field.”

Early in his stay, Ivanhoe wrote a quote that stuck with Lord throughout his time at TIRR Memorial Hermann. She wrote, “You’re not getting worse, you’re getting better.” This quote served as a daily motivation and reminder to Lord.

Retraining His Brain and Body

For more than ten weeks, Lord spent countless hours working hard to retrain his brain and body. Therapists worked with him to do strength-training exercises to help him with weight bearing and to regain movement on the right side of his body. Physical therapy sessions empowered him to learn to walk with a walker and eventually without one. Next, he graduated to walking up and down stairs. Lord’s favorite parts of therapy were riding a recumbent bike and hitting a tennis ball to work on stability and mobility. He has been a long-time avid tennis player.

Cognitive exercises were also key in his recovery. While at TIRR Memorial Hermann, he relearned how to read and write. As a former pilot and global traveler, Lord was eager to relearn countries and spent a lot of time studying maps. Life skills were also an important part of occupational therapy where he practiced cooking and basic grooming steps.

“When I first started physical therapy, I let my therapist know I wanted to be at both of my daughters’ graduations because they were graduating the same day from the same school,” said Lord. “As I continued to improve to where I knew I would be at their graduations, I pushed to be able to walk on my own to their ceremonies.”

Walking to See His Daughters Walk at Graduation

Two weeks after being discharged from TIRR Memorial Hermann, Lord fulfilled his goal and walked at his daughters’ graduations.

“We are not good at predicting what someone’s outcome will be after a severe injury so we fight to provide all of the resources to have a good outcome.Mr. Lord is a great example of what is possible,” said Dr. Ivanhoe.

To learn more about rehabilitation services, visit TIRR Memorial Hermann.

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Ali Vise