When Alejandro Sanchez was driving back from a surfing trip in Mexico along the Central Coast, he had no idea his life was about to take a drastic turn.
At age 29, the young welder was full of life, loved excitement and everything at high speed. At home his blood hounds, his companions for hunting, were waiting for him to come home. But on Jan. 28, 2012, he was going fast — a little too fast, as it would turn out.
Sanchez lost control of his car, rolled it on the freeway and was ejected from the car. His life was changed as he woke up at the trauma center with a traumatic brain injury.
During the next few months, he underwent various surgeries and procedures. Many medical complications followed and left him in a semi-comatose state. A feeding tube was put in place, and nursing home placement was explored as the future looked grim for any return to home.
Central Coast Nursing Center in Santa Barbara, with a brand-new rehabilitation wing and an experienced team of therapists, became his new home. Upon arrival in August, he was assessed and placed on a sub-acute regime. He was assessed at a 6 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. A 6 on this scale indicates no voluntary, controlled motor movement, including swallowing and speech, and an unresponsiveness to all stimuli other than pain.
The rehabilitation team worked closely with nursing and monitored any changes in his condition. Expectations were not high, but every one remained hopeful.
Then, one day in the shower, he started to initiate movement, tried to wash himself and started to communicate. Initially his showers were the most effective intervention; he started moving with control and purpose, became more aware and awake, was able to sit in a wheelchair, showed less posturing and started to show interest in food.
Speech therapy has worked diligently since that day on progressing Sanchez safely to a normal diet and completely off artificial feedings. His communication and humor have returned, and he is full of stories. Physical and occupational therapies have been able to guide him back to being a 100 percent ambulatory, navigate the community, feed himself and take care of all his ADL’s independently. His therapies have included PNF, NDT, gait training, gait training with walking a dog, contracture management, fine motor manipulation and functional training in real-life situations.
Sanchez expressed great eagerness to return to his friends and family, and most of all, “I need to be home for Christmas. My dogs miss me!”
The team at Central Coast Nursing Center was happy to be able to make his wish come true. Sanchez was discharged home to enjoy Christmas with his family and his hunting dogs the day before Christmas.
— Kirk Klotthor represents Central Coast Nursing Center.