Posts Tagged ‘patient story’

Former College Football Player Makes a Comeback after Stroke Recovery

Patient David Jacobs & the Jacobs FamilyAs a defensive tackle on the University of Georgia’s football team, David Jacobs was at the top of his game, physically and mentally. But in November 2001, everything changed.

Jacobs had been feeling strange all week, even missing two football practices – a rarity for a player with his level of devotion. He’d had headaches and felt dizzy and lethargic. He chalked it up to his demanding schedule and dehydration. Hoping to play in the upcoming Ole Miss game, Jacobs headed back to practice, only to take a particularly hard hit that left the right side of his body numb and tingling – hallmark symptoms of stroke. Just minutes later, Jacobs became unconscious and unresponsive in the training room.

Jacobs was rushed to a local Athens hospital, where diagnostic tests revealed that David would need advanced care for a stroke. He was transported by helicopter to Emory University Hospital, Atlanta’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center. David learned that he’d had an occlusion in his vertebral artery, which serves as a major supplier of blood to the brain. A blood clot followed developed, disrupting blood flow to the brain. When the brain doesn’t receive enough blood, a stroke occurs.

“I went from working hard everyday on the field to having a stroke, just like that,” Jacobs recalls.

At one point, the prognosis was grim. While he was unable to talk, eat or walk, David’s family prayed by his bedside that his condition would improve so that he wouldn’t have to undergo risky surgery. Their prayers were answered.

“I remember that bit by bit, we began to see signs that he was starting to improve,” says Desiree Jacobs, David’s wife, who was his girlfriend at the time of his stroke. “If there’s one thing to know about David, it’s that he’s a fighter, not just on the field, but in all areas of his life. Surviving this was no different for him.”

David spent a month in Emory University Hospital’s Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. From there, he moved to Emory’s Center for Rehabilitation Medicine, a multidisciplinary center that provides ongoing care for patients who have undergone a stroke or spinal cord injury, or individuals with neurological damage, musculoskeletal problems, pain, amputations and chronic disease. There, he would spend three months learning to walk, eat and do the basic things that used to come so easily to an athlete of his caliber. His care team consisted of physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, case managers, dietitians, doctors and nurses, all whom had a hand in David’s recovery.

Looking back, of the many things David had learned, listening to his body has been the most essential.

“My body had been warning me that something wasn’t right,” David says. “It’s important to know the signs of stroke, like a sudden severe headache, trouble speaking and numbness so that you can get treatment right away.”

Now nearly 11 years later, David is married with two young sons and works full time as an account manager in the mortgage industry. Tall and athletic, David certainly looks the part of former football player. But, the role he’s most proud of? Stroke survivor. Learn more about David’s journey in the video below:

Read more about David’s story on and UGA’s athletics website.

Related Resources:

Joshua Jamison’s Hospital Choice Made the Difference…THREE Times

Joshua Jamison

Joshua Jamison, Emory Healthcare Patient

When he begins to share his story, Joshua (Josh) Jamison will tell you that it starts much like it does for many of us. “I decided to start college at 18,” he says. “I had just bought a house on a lake and the boy-to-girl ratio was 3-to-1, those seemed like good odds,” he chuckles. It’s not until later in the story that his jovial attitude and carefree spirit might begin to surprise you. Josh has been through more physically in the last 12 years than most people have to endure in a lifetime, and yet, he continues to smile.

In 2001, Josh was in Snellville, Georgia, heading home on I-24 when he was struck by an 18-wheeler. The physical damage was severe. His head was split open and he was unconscious. Thankfully, he had a friend with him, who called 9-1-1. Josh was lifeflighted from the scene and it wasn’t until weeks later that Josh came-to from his coma. “All I remember is that I woke up at Emory,” he recalls. “After a month, I started to remember things. I was paralyzed on my right side for some time. A lot of it is still very fuzzy.”

Josh didn’t return to school after the accident, but he did return to work. Having worked much of his life in hands-on jobs, Josh got back into the swing of things working as an arborist. At 26 years old, he was on the job hanging a tree, or taking it down vertically (as opposed to horizontally, which is typical). Somewhere in the process, the tree fell as planned, but not in the place where Josh expected it to. The tree came down on Josh’s foot, which was shattered, cut open, and badly damaged. He was initially sent to a local area hospital that told Josh the outlook wasn’t good– they were going to have to amputate his leg from the knee down. Being an active and young man at the time with a mom who he describes as “great at researching medical caregivers,” Josh wouldn’t accept amputation and immobility as his future.

He was again transferred to Emory, where Dr. Culbertson told Josh that they would be able to save not only his foot, but his leg as well. “He used my back muscle to repair my foot. They amputated my big toe instead of my whole leg, and grafted the muscle to preserve its function. I still have my balance and I don’t have to use a prosthetic limb.” After two major accidents in a 4 year window of time, Josh vowed to return to school, this time, not because of the promising 3-to-1 male-to-female ratio, but that didn’t stop fate from intervening, “That’s when I met my wife,” he recalls with a sigh of relief.

You’d think for Josh, it was “happily ever after” from there, right? Not so fast. Only a few months ago, in late 2012, when using a backpack blower while atop of a flat roof, Josh slipped. He landed on his elbow in the concrete driveway below. The impact shattered Josh’s elbow and was yet another blow to the healthy outlook on life he had regained after the previous two accidents. Once again, Josh chose and was treated at Emory, this time, by Dr. Claudius D. Jarrett, who would go on to repair Josh’s elbow. “I’m still in rehab for that one,” he adds.

After 12 years and three accidents, Josh opted to steer clear of jobs that required manual labor. “I’ve actually retired now and I’m happy. I have my wife, my life and my health thanks to the doctors at Emory.”

Can Twitter Help Save Lives? A Health Care Social Media Case Study, Part I

This case study is the first of a two part series. The information below reflects the events of April 25th, 2011 from a human standpoint, without critical regard to process or tactical considerations, or future implications, which will be covered in Part II.

Social media and health care, the conundrum of all conundrums. While social media facilitates a quickness and level of transparency that contrasts starkly with the inherently private nature of health care, there are moments and glimpses that show us that the two can coexist, and quite effectively. Because much of what I do here at Emory Healthcare involves social media, I’m an advocate for its use and believe in the benefits of social media for health care organizations. To name a few, social media breaks down geographic barriers to traditional support groups. It allows us to keep important health and wellness factors top of mind. We can use social media to discuss health news and innovations in real time or solve problems for patients, families, and communities looking for a quick solution, or an outlet and set of ears to listen. In all of these cases, social media proves time and time again to be a trusted source for getting answers, engaging with peers and businesses, and resolving problems. On April 25th, I had a chance to participate in a social media dialogue that will forever impact my life, and potentially the realm of health care social media.

At 11:06 am on April 25, we received a tweet from Matthew Browning, who was playing a critical role in helping his wife and family in getting through a crisis situation. The tweet read as follows, “@emoryhealthcare NEED HELP NOW!! Grandma w/ RUPTURED AORTA needs Card Surgeon/OR ASAP, STAT! can you accept LifeFlight NOW!!?”

Tweet from Matthew Browning to Emory Healthcare

While much of our social media is proactive and conversational, when we receive a tweet like Matthew’s, everything changes. We must immediately throw out the process flowcharts, remove all barriers, and act. Instantaneously, things shift into high gear and a number of contacts in a variety of departments are contacted to get the right information as quickly as possible. Within minutes, we tweeted back to Matthew, “@MatthewBrowning Matthew, please either call 911 or have your grandma’s doctor call our transfer service to get immediate help: 404-686-8334.”

Response tweet from Emory Healthcare to Matthew Browning

What was most important here was giving Matthew information he could act on. When using Twitter, messages can only be 140 characters, so it was critical to include the most necessary information for him to get immediate assistance. The reason we provided the number for the transfer service will be discussed in detail in part two of the case study.

Four minutes later, at 11:21 am, Matthew responded, “@emoryhealthcare We are doing that! She is in small South Georgia hosp right now- but needs MAJOR help- We are calling, thanks!” We responded “@MatthewBrowning keep us posted & please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help. We’re keeping you both in our thoughts.” Matthew sent a tweet one minute later, “@hospitalpolicygrp @emoryhealthcare Thank you for your help!” Followed by “@emoryhealthcare Look for STAT Transfer from South Georgia, accept her if able and we’ll see you soon Thanks!”

Emory Healthcare Matthew Browning Twitter dialogue

16 minutes later, at 11:41 am Matthew’s wife’s grandmother was on a lifeflight to Emory. “@emoryhealthcare Thank you for accepting her- She is on the LifeFlight to you now- Bless you all and Thank you!!”

Tweet Matthew Browning to Emory Healthcare - On LifeFlight

Our dialogue with Matthew on Monday continued on through the day, and not all of the tweets we received or sent are included above, but if that doesn’t show you the power of social media, I don’t know what will. It’s true that the same outcome may have taken place if it had not been for social media. But when a life is hanging in the balance and minutes, not hours make the difference, the risk of ignoring technology such as social media to intervene and save a life is one we’re not willing to take. As Matthew mentioned when I spoke with him via phone on Tuesday, “when you’ve got a ruptured aorta as a diagnosis, you can’t think. You gotta just move.”

And move he did. As a Registered Nurse and founder of Your Nurse is On, a health care staffing application, Matthew’s circle of health care peers and friends is not a small one. Using Twitter, email, and LinkedIn, he was able to make more contacts in minutes than anyone could in hours with traditional technologies. At the same time, phone calls were being made from the hospital trying to find a hospital to transfer his wife’s grandmother to, “we got lots of nos,” Matthew told me Tuesday. Thankfully, in this case we were able to be there. When he reached out to us via Twitter our team had the ability and capacity to help. “We group-sourced something to people with a common interest and achieved a medical miracle,” Matthew said.

Emory Healthcare able to accommodate patient via Twitter

Response to Matthew Browning

While HIPAA and patient privacy considerations are of the utmost priority when it comes to any health care related dialogue, there are moments in which common sense and the willingness and desire to save a life has to take a front seat. He recalled that when his wife’s grandmother was on her way via lifeflight, a surgeon had been lined up, but a bed had not. But in times of crisis, like he says, you just move. And like Matthew moved to make contact with his network in minutes, our team of physicians, nurses, and staff moved to make sure our patient was accommodated. “That’s the pace of health care,” he says.

In this case, health care and social media not only coexisted, but mirrored each other in pace to keep alive the possibility of saving a life.  Without the quickness of social media, that helicopter may have never been dispatched. It’s our commitment and our passion in health care to do everything we can to make sure the things we can control go well. On April 25, Twitter was a tool we used to help make that happen.

Very unfortunately, we learned from Matthew via Twitter that his wife’s grandmother passed away on Monday evening. He told us “@emoryhealthcare Thank You for your valiant efforts on behalf of our Grandmother – your team is awesome and their compassion unrivaled- thx“.
Matthew Browning to Emory Healthcare - thank you

We are and will continue to keep Matthew, his wife, and their family members in our hearts and thoughts. When I spoke to him on Tuesday, though, he had a humbling peace about him, as though he knew everything possible was done. The series of events that took place on Monday, April 25 were no doubt humbling and powerful for all of us involved. This experience has shown us what we already believed, that social media has the power to truly change the landscape of health care and impact and potentially save individual lives because of it.

Thank you to Matthew Browning and his wife, Phoebe, for reaching out a hand and for the dedication, care, and love they have shown us and the health care community despite tremendously chaotic circumstances. Welcome to our Emory Healthcare family.

Related Links

Can Twitter Help Save Lives? A Health Care Social Media Cast Study, Part II

Twitter Emory Healthcare on Twitter
Twitter Matthew Browning on Twitter

Author: Morgan Griffith, Interactive Marketing Manager, Emory Healthcare