Georgetown University Football Player Determined to Live Life Again Following Spinal Cord Injury

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 13, 2018 – Tyrell Williams, linebacker with the Georgetown University football team, has been doing his outpatient rehabilitation here at MedStar NRH Rehabilitation Network at Irving Street in D.C., for several months now, following a career-ending spinal cord injury suffered during a game in 2015.

Williams told NBC4’s Nicole Jacobs he remembers the moment very well. “It was the fifth or sixth play of the game, maybe near the 10-yard line,” he said. “I heard a snap and a tingle.”

He put his head down for a tackle and his rammed right into an opposing player’s pelvis. The result was a C6 neck injury and paralysis.

MedStar NRH Network Physical Therapist Katie Seward has been working several hours a week with Ty since he came to Irving Street for physical therapy. He is slowly beginning to gain back some finger control, his arms and a lot of upper body strength. “My core is coming back – my abs, obliques,” adds Ty.

The 23-year-old is determined with great positivity that he can do anything. He does not look back, only forward. “I don’t want to let the chair decide what I want to do,” he told NBC4. “I want to decide what I want to do.” Seward agrees with that assessment adding that Ty has an excellent support system around him. “He has a very positive attitude and that has really helped him through his physical therapy,” said Seward.

While Williams continues his physical therapy he will continue to work towards his undergraduate degree before he embarks on a Master’s in sports management at Georgetown.

Watch the clip from NBC4/WRC-TV here

For Immediate Release

Contact: Derek Berry
Director of Communications
Ph: 202-877-1773
[email protected]

How The MedStar NRH Care Team Handles Complex Cases

In an instant with the crack of a bullet, the spin of a car, or the sudden burst of vessels in the brain, lives are irrevocably changed. For U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise, the innocence of a baseball game was shattered when a gunman aimed his weapon at the field where members of Congress were practicing for an annual game scheduled for the next evening.

His grave bullet wounds and his difficult journey through multiple surgeries and infection have been well documented. But like so many other patients with complex injuries, survival is just the first step in a recovery that may continue for months or years.

When the Congressman left his stay at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, he was immediately admitted to MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital (MedStar NRH). His eight week stay at MedStar NRH demonstrates the critical importance of acute rehabilitation for patients who have suffered serious injury and who continue to have complex medical needs, as well.

For Congressman Scalise—and other patients with more complicated injury or illness—rehabilitation begins even before they enter the doors of MedStar NRH, explains John Aseff, MD, the physiatrist who cared for Rep. Scalise while in acute rehab.

Multidisciplinary Care Team
When the Congressman arrived at MedStar NRH, a team of rehabilitation experts had already been assigned to his care and provided an initial review of his immediate needs.

Every patient has a multidisciplinary care team that works collaboratively with one another, the patient and the family throughout hospitalization. Physiatrists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, recreation therapists, neuropsychologists, case managers and dietitians work in concert to develop an individualized treatment plan to help ensure the best possible recovery.

The care team meets weekly to share updates on the patient’s progress—and to address problems that may impede recovery. “Family meetings are also held to provide the patient and loved ones with a more global picture of the present—and the future,” explains Social Worker Joan McKinon Reeves, LICSW, MedStar NRH director of case managers.

“From the very beginning of a patient’s hospitalization, we provide an evaluation and create open communication between us and the patient and family,” she adds. “With patients who have more complex injuries, it’s important to understand what kind of support system they have at home and even begin to look at what they may require when they are discharged.

Rigorous Therapy, Six Days a Week
Working with patients who have an array of issues, care teams included therapists with special expertise working with patients suffering some type of neurological injury.

“Some patients need to relearn to walk,” says Meaghan Minzy, PT, DPT. “Our goal in physical therapy is to improve endurance, strengthen a patient’s upper body and help them use their legs.”

Amanda Summers, MS, OTR/L, ATP, says patients who present with physical weakness need to be mindful of overexertion. “Occupational therapy is focused on improving cardiovascular fitness and strengthening the upper body so that daily living tasks can once again be performed.”

For three hours-a-day, six-days-a-week, the Congressman pushed himself and his body, moving from wheelchair, to a walker and onto crutches. “In time, he went from walking 20 feet to 200,” says Minzy.

Progress like this is the result of a patient’s determination, the skill of rehab experts—plus the latest technology, such as FES, functional electrical stimulation to muscles, and the ZeroG® --the robotic body weight support system first developed at MedStar NRH.

Patients with very complex injuries face enormous challenges as they learn to “accept the injury and adjust to a new normal,” says Minzy. “For us, it never gets old to watch as patients improve and leave us able to move on with their lives.”

For Immediate Release

Contact: Derek T. Berry
Director of Communications
Ph: 202-877-1773
[email protected]

Injured Firefighter Makes Remarkable Recovery & Heads Home

Firefighter-Dane-SmothersWASHINGTON - Oct. 26, 2017 - D.C. firefighter Dane Smothers, Jr., who was critically injured at the scene of a house fire this summer, was released from inpatient care at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital (MedStar NRH) on Wednesday, Oct. 25. Local news media outlets reported that there were strong concerns that Smothers might never walk again. But he has proved all of those who may have doubted him wrong.

"Life was not easy for him when he first came here, but he really progressed much more quickly than any of us could have expected," said Erika Gosai, MD, Spinal Cord Injury Physician and Rehabilitation Specialist with MedStar NRH. "You shouldn't really bet against DJ. He is a remarkable young man and has shown really, truly a strong healing capability."

Jack Sava, MD, Director of Trauma with MedStar Washington Hospital Center (MedStar WHC) added that Smothers had many severe injuries to his organs and blood vessels and some broken bones. "During the first 48 hours in intensive care, the ICU team worked minute to minute to try and keep him alive throughout the night," he said.

Smothers' colleagues from the D.C. Fire Department and many of those who cared for him with MedStar NRH - including his physical therapist Jacques Sadie, his occupational therapist Jocelyn Dressel, his recreation therapist Catherine McCrary, and his case manager Maureen Bobish, as well as members of the nursing staff at MedStar NRH and from MedStar WHC came to offer their support and encouragement on this joyful day for Dane.

Chief Gregory Dean with D.C. Fire and EMS said that he and his colleagues hope to see Smothers back on the job someday in the near future. "There is a lot of behind the scene players that have been extremely helpful," said Chief Dean. "I think we are motivated by this young man and his strength that we are seeing on a daily basis."

Smothers and his father, Dane Sr., who accompanied his son to a news conference prior to Dane Jr.'s discharge from MedStar NRH, were both thankful for the care Dane, Jr. received. Dane Jr. vowed to return to work fighting fires in the District one day. "I want to thank the nurses and doctors and the trauma team; everyone who cared for me," he said. "I have never really been scared away from a challenge. I'm not scared to run into a burning building. Still not scared. Still not afraid of a challenge. I definitely would like to return to the (firehouse)."

Smothers will soon start a course of outpatient rehabilitation to set him onto his next journey of one day returning to the firehouse.

About MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

The MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is a regional system of rehabilitation care that offers inpatient, day treatment and outpatient services in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.

The Network’s interdisciplinary team of rehabilitation experts provides comprehensive services to help people recover as fully as possible following illness and injury. Rehabilitation medicine specialists, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists work hand-in-hand with other rehab professionals to design treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Rehabilitation plans feature a team approach and include the use of state-of-the-art technology and advanced medical treatment based on the latest rehabilitation research.

The Network provides comprehensive programs specifically designed to aid in the rehabilitation of adults and children recovering from neurologic and orthopedic conditions such as amputation, arthritis, back and neck pain, brain injury, cancer, cardiac conditions, concussion, fibromyalgia, foot and ankle disorders, hand and upper extremity problems, post-polio syndrome, stroke, spinal cord injury and disease, and sports and work-related injuries.

Inpatient and day treatment programs are provided at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital located in Northwest Washington, DC and at more than 50 outpatient sites conveniently located throughout the region. MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is fully accredited by The Joint Commission, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), with CARF accredited specialty programs for Amputations, Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke.

For more on MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and to find a location near you, log on to MedStarNRH.org.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Derek T. Berry
Director of Communications
Ph: 202-877-1773
M: 571-218-7594
[email protected]