“The Worst Thing That Happens Is That He Gets His Hair Wet!”: Life After Trauma for Jackie Lithgow

“The Worst Thing That Happens Is That He Gets His Hair Wet!”: Life After Trauma for Jackie Lithgow

Eventually, every life-altering event becomes history. At that moment, it’s possible to pinpoint important events that happened along the way.

Such is the case with Jackie Lithgow’s story.

Years after almost dying from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained while trying to break up a fight among his fellow college students, Jackie has recovered enough to re-enter Bloomsburg University and pursue his higher education. In fact, he retains only positivity and a bright outlook despite his tragic experience.

What keeps him so optimistic and moving in the right direction? In addition to the never-ending support of his family, not to mention a will to overcome, he credits his healthcare team for pushing him forward. And that team includes the aquatic therapy focused professionals at the Hetrick Center.

Jackie came to the Hetrick Center unlike many other patients, as his story was well-known among staff thanks to press surrounding the accident. Knowing he had done well with land-based therapy, they naturally brought him into their HydroWorx pool so he could continue to work on his gait, balance, and strength in a more forgiving environment.

As one of his hydrotherapy team members now notes with a smile, they knew a head of wet hair was the worst that could happen if he lost his footing during his sessions.

From being confined to a seated position to jogging solo on the underwater treadmill, Jackie made new inroads to physical improvement with every session. At the same time, his therapy providers added cognitive aspects to each aquatic treatment, forcing him to put words to his memories, speeding up his recall, verbal abilities, and more.

“Everything I learned here has helped me,” says Jackie, thoughtfully considering his truly inspirational journey and the way it was augmented by innovative protocols including aquatic therapy.

Learn more about what Jackie explains was a “wonderful experience.” Watch the final installment of our three-part video series on his fight back from a TBI.

Missed parts one or two? View them now!
Part 1
Part 2


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