Steve and Hercules: National Pet Day
Craig Hospital Blog
by Jaxn Engstrom
5d ago
In celebration of National Pet Day, it’s only fitting to spotlight two exceptional volunteers at Craig: Steve and his pet therapy dog, Hercules. Their journey with us began in December 2022 as one of 16 human-animal teams in our Animal-Assisted Intervention Program (AAIP), bringing joy and therapeutic support to our patients on a weekly basis. Steve and his family serve as volunteer puppy raisers for Canine Companions and receive puppies at two months old and train them until they are 18 months old, providing them with a nurturing environment, comprehensive training and mastery of 40 differe ..read more
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For the Love of Music
Craig Hospital Blog
by Lucie Lawrence
3w ago
Music has always been an important part of Nash Murath’s life. So when Annamarie Engelhard, a neurologic music therapist at Craig Hospital, asked Nash to perform at Craig’s Impact Celebration: Performing Arts on April 4, 2024, he jumped at the chance. “My team at Craig did so much to help me after my accident, so it’s very important for me to give back,” Nash explains. “I love Craig and want to support the hospital in any way that I can.” A Creative Outlet Amid Trauma Nash’s journey from college student to hospital patient began on March 10, 2019. While having fun with fr ..read more
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New Sleep Testing Pilot Program for Craig Inpatients Promotes Health Equity
Craig Hospital Blog
by Jaxn Engstrom
1M ago
The American Medical Association estimates that 30 million people in the U.S. have sleep-disruptive breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is significantly more common in individuals with spinal cord injury, especially those with tetraplegia, among whom an estimated 25% to 40% have the disorder. Individuals living with traumatic brain injury also see sleep disturbance following injury at rates between 30% to 70%. Moreover, the condition is highly underdiagnosed, which can lead to even more significant medical conditions down the road, such as heart attack and stroke. Individua ..read more
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Home Away from Home 
Craig Hospital Blog
by Lucie Lawrence
1M ago
Three months after 22-year-old Jacob Smetak sustained a serious brain injury in a truck accident, he arrived at Craig Hospital.   “Before getting to Craig, Jacob spent several months at a trauma hospital near our home in Olympia, Washington,” recalls his mother, Jody. “But he did not receive a lot of therapy there. He wasn’t improving, and they didn’t give us a lot of hope. However, once we got to Craig, everything began to change.”  Jacob arrived at Craig unaroused and nonverbal and needing total care. But thanks to consistent therapeutic recreational activities and daily the ..read more
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Embracing Each Tiny Miracle
Craig Hospital Blog
by Lucie Lawrence
1M ago
“Every day is better and better,” Cindy Manzo, Dylan Richard’s mother, says. “Dylan is a walking and talking miracle. Early on, we were told that his brain injury was life threatening and that he might not have any quality of life. But today, our happy 21-year-old is clowning around, independently walking short distances, bathing and feeding himself, playing Xbox, and enjoying life.” She adds, “And we truly believe we have Craig Hospital to thank for the amazing progress that Dylan has made over the last few years.” Fighting for Life It was May 12, 2020—at the very start of the COVID pandemic ..read more
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A Journey of Healing and Acceptance
Craig Hospital Blog
by Lucie Lawrence
1M ago
“After focusing all of my energy on walking for more than a year, I decided to see what else life had to offer. I chose to accept my wheelchair and embrace my new life,” explains 20-year-old Mason Branstrator. “I not only completed an Olympic triathlon, but I also surfed, fly fished and cross country skied. In the process, I learned that recovery is about finding new ways to do the things you love and being kind and patient with yourself.” He adds, “It has taken me three years since my ski accident to accept where my body is at and to learn how to heal the relationship with my legs. Most impo ..read more
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Taking It One Day at a Time
Craig Hospital Blog
by Lucie Lawrence
2M ago
About three years after 18-year-old Thomas McLaurin sustained a diffuse axonal brain injury in a car accident, he and his family attended Craig Hospital’s a 2023 Adventure Program trip in Breckenridge, Colorado. “The trip was absolutely amazing,” recalls Thomas’s mother, Megan. “It gave us hope that we could all live a normal life once again.” While in Breckenridge, Thomas—along with three other teenage boys and their families—spent several days kayaking, rafting and zip lining and enjoyed a ropes course, yoga and game nights. “Originally, I was hesitant to take Thomas on the trip because he ..read more
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Living Life to the Fullest
Craig Hospital Blog
by Lucie Lawrence
3M ago
Less than one week before beginning his freshman year at Humboldt State University, Alex Uppenkamp was mountain biking near his home in San Diego. He attempted a 32-foot jump, but overshot the landing and fell on his head, breaking his C4-C6. “I was instantly paralyzed from the chest down,” recalls the 22-year-old. “The following day, I had neck surgery to rebuild and stabilize my neck and then spent the next month in the ICU connected to a feeding tube and a ventilator.” His father, Mike, adds “We basically wasted those first 35 days in the ICU before we could get Alex moved to Craig Hospita ..read more
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Full Speed Ahead: Mackenzie Langley Makes Her Dreams a Reality
Craig Hospital Blog
by Lucie Lawrence
4M ago
“It’s very difficult for women to break into the tech startup world,” Mackenzie Langley explains. “And it’s even more difficult when you’re a woman in a wheelchair.” But the 25-year-old refused to let this stop her when she entered the 2023 CodeLaunch competition in Dallas for new tech entrepreneurs. In fact, Mackenzie’s startup, Lighthouse (a social network that makes it easy for nonprofit leaders to develop strategic partnerships and share resources to increase their impact on the communities that they serve) was named the overall startup champion, in addition to winning the Judges’ Choice ..read more
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Home Sweet Home: Craig Hospital’s Going Home Fund Creates a Safety Net for Patients and Families
Craig Hospital Blog
by Lucie Lawrence
4M ago
After sustaining a stroke in February 2022, 60-year-old Nelson Ball spent four months at Craig Hospital. While Nelson’s two young daughters were thrilled when their dad was finally ready to return home, his wife, Renee, felt scared and overwhelmed. “Once Nelson was back at home, I knew that I would need to turn him over throughout the night to reduce his risk of bed sores,” Renee explains. “But I was so worried that I’d never be able to sleep—or be able to move him by myself. Before we left Craig, Nelson’s doctor described the benefits of using a self-turning mattress, but insurance didn’t c ..read more
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