HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Traumatic head injuries can kill or leave a person maimed for life. There are some people, however, who have lived to tell about such an experience.
When Jeremy Hays was a 24-year-old newlywed, he went to Memphis working as a cable installer to make extra money. On May 10, 2012, his life changed.
"Two days before I was to come home, I fell 15 feet from my ladder and landed on concrete with the right side of my head," Hays said.
"He actually crushed a portion of his skull and his brain," added Sue Creekmore.
Creekmore is the Director of Therapy Operations and the Brain Injury Program at HealthSouth in Huntsville. She is also a language pathologist.
"Jeremy's injury actually affected the way he swallowed, all motor function, his ability to stay alert and awake," the doctor said.
Most rehabilitation hospitals refused to accept him, saying his injuries were too severe. That's when he came to HealthSouth in Huntsville.
"I was fairly bedridden," Hays recalled. "I could not stand up on my own. And if I was to get up out of the bed, I was picked up with a lift and put into a wheelchair."
After his first stay, he went home for a year.
"His wife did an excellent job of caring for him at home, as well as his in-laws," said Creekmore. "He was pretty much unable to do anything."
They say he seemed to "wake up" at some point, suddenly wanting to communicate, and came back to HealthSouth.
"He came in on a wheelchair with difficulty in transfers. He left us as a walking man on a walker," Creekmore said.
So many things that we take for granted, like taking steps or fine motor skills - for a person with a traumatic brain injury or even a stroke, takes heavy re-training to master once again.
"They said that if I lived I would not live an ordinary life," said Hays. "I now say they're right... I live an extraordinary life. I try to go and share my testimony at different churches and venues and different organizations that need inspiration. I try to use my story to inspire others."
His hopes for the future? A full time job, so he can provide for his wife and future children.