Published on May 24, 2017

Genesis Therapies Help Davenport Man Recover From Traumatic Brain Injury

Sept. 18, 6:45 p.m.

The date and time are not memories for Rod Becker.  He learned the details after the fact.  

Becker and his wife, Kathy, were walking around Vander Veer Park in Davenport only a block from their home. They were crossing Harrison Street.

Sept. 18, 6:45 p.m.

The car was making a left turn. Both of the Beckers were struck by the car estimated to be moving at 35 miles per hour at the time. Rod suffered life-threatening injuries.

“I always walked closest to the traffic but Kathy got hit, too,’’ Rod said. “I don’t remember any of this. I was up on the car’s windshield.  Kathy looked like she went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.’’

Disheartening Prognosis

Rod, 55, had sustained a traumatic brain injury in the accident and was in a coma. He was airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, where he was diagnosed with a skull fracture, bleeding in his brain and a blood clot.  The day following the accident, Kathy Becker, the Beckers’ son, Zachary, and Gillian, a niece, who is a nurse, heard a frank, disheartening prognosis.

“The doctors said he might not ever wake from the semi-coma, he may never recover from the brain injury, or he may need months of inpatient rehabilitation and still might not gain full function,’’ Kathy recalled.  “It was a frightening conversation.  We didn’t know what to expect.’’

Rod slowly regained consciousness. The pressure on his brain from swelling gradually was reduced.

After 12 days at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Rod was transferred to the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Genesis Medical Center, West Central Park. University of Iowa Hospitals often transfers rehabilitation patients to the highly regarded Genesis inpatient rehabilitation unit.  The Genesis unit is one of the largest in Iowa.

“I thought I was ready to go on about the second day in rehabilitation,’’ Rod said. “I thought I was fine.  The treatments were tough.  I had no idea what was in front of me.’’

Rod’s Road Back

Rod was only beginning a long road to recovery. He spent 15 days in the Genesis inpatient rehabilitation program, working a minimum of 3 hours per day focused on improving his balance, awareness of deficits, attention to tasks and helping him engage in familiar daily tasks and work-related tasks.

Following discharge from the inpatient unit, he began extensive outpatient therapies – physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy -- at Genesis Physical Therapy at Devils Glen in Bettendorf.

Four days a week, 61/2 hours each day, for three months, Rod participated in the LIFT (Learning Independence For Tomorrow) program to regain cognitive skills.

He received neurofeedback treatment.  Neurofeedback is a powerful, non-invasive rehabilitation tool that retrains the brain through use of exercises to improve function.  Neurofeedback is a common treatment for patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

“Where he started to where he is today is amazing,’’ Kathy Becker said. “He would not be where he is had he not done all of the therapies.’’

“It was a lot more than I expected and harder than what I had expected,’’ Rod explained. “Some days I didn’t want to go at all.’’

“He wanted to be done but his own stubbornness motivated him to keep going,’’ Kathy added.

Road Trip To Work

The rehabilitation didn’t end inside the Genesis Physical Therapy location at Devils Glen.  His comeback included an outing to his workplace to determine his readiness to perform his duties managing 35 employees and many other tasks as manager of Robert’s Buffet at Rhythm City Hotel and Casino.

Members of his rehabilitation team went to his workplace with him and explored what his job required on a daily basis. They looked for ways to change how he had previously completed tasks and gave him aids when he returned to work.

“All I can say is to get all the help you can, keep fighting and rely on the people around you to help you.  Kathy was there for me the entire way and kept me going when I might have otherwise quit,’’ Rod explained.  “And the people at Rhythm City have been fantastic the whole way supporting me.’’

There was one more important motivator for Rod. He wanted to drive again. He believed driving was one of the remaining hurdles to full recovery.

“It was the longest 45 minutes I’ve ever spent driving a car. She (the Genesis rehabilitation driving instructor) talked the entire time we were driving,’’ Rod recalled. “She was doing it on purpose…trying to distract me and see if I was ready to safely drive again.  It was a big goal to be able to drive again.’’

The Genesis physical rehabilitation inpatient unit, located at Genesis Medical Center, West Central Park, serves persons of all ages experiencing a physical disability and/or cognitive impairment. The 39-bed comprehensive inpatient program is accredited by CARF, The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission, for brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke and comprehensive rehab.  An inter-disciplinary team of specially trained rehabilitation professionals works together to provide services individually designed for each patient's unique needs.

The LIFT program, which serves persons of all ages experiencing cognitive impairments, is also accredited by CARF.

Therapies and the professional rehabilitation team available from Genesis, inpatient and outpatient, have allowed Rod Becker to return to the independence of his life and his work. Rod will be recognized by the Quad-Cities River Bandits in a celebration of his recovery called Home Runs for Life on May 26 at Modern Woodmen Park.

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