“Mom, It Feels Like I Can Walk Again”: Jackie Lithgow’s Progress With Water
After Bloomsburg University student Jackie Lithgow’s devastating traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2014, he was left without so much. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. More than anything, he couldn’t continue the life of an average college student.
Yet there was something important he could do with the help of his family: Persevere.
In the face of an enormous challenge, Jackie began the marathon journey toward recovering everything he had lost after trying to break up a fraternity fight and almost losing his life in the process. At the same time, his mother began researching innovative treatments to complement his occupational therapy, physical therapy, recreational therapy and speech therapy appointments.
That’s how the Lithgow’s were introduced to aqua therapy.
Jackie remembers his early sessions in the pool at the Hetrick Center. Unable to carry his body weight on land, he was wheeled onto the pool’s movable floor and slowly lowered into the warm water still in his wheelchair. Once surrounded and buoyed by the water, he felt a sensation he hadn’t enjoyed in a long time; namely, it was the freedom to move.
As he recalls, he turned to his mother and said after one treatment, “It feels like I can walk again.” It was a dream statement at the time, but ultimately an achievable feat for the young man with so much support and determination.
Gradually, Jackie moved from life in a wheelchair, to needing a walker, and then to moving freely on his own without any assistive devices. In the pool, his progress was equally impressive; with the help of the underwater treadmill, he re-learned how to properly move.
“Once we added aqua therapy… that’s when things really took off,” explains Jackie’s mother with a grin. Watch more of this incredible case study in Part II of our exclusive video focused on Jackie’s return to health.
Miss the beginning of the story? Watch Part 1>>