Trevor Keeney’s feet carefully navigate the well-trodden path in Arches National Park as his eyes scan the awe-inspiring sandstone structures. The two-mile hike in Moab, Utah, is rated “easy” in the guide book, but for Trevor, it is a milestone. Just two months earlier, the teenager survived a devastating car accident that took the life of his best friend.
On March 13, 16-old Trevor was relaxing with friends at a cabin near Fremont following the second place victory of their high school basketball team in the state tournament. The teens were headed back to Fremont when their car was hit by a Suburban SUV on Highway 77. The force of the impact spun the car twice, shattering the back windshield, yanking Trevor out of his seat belt and shoes. He was drug along the pavement for 75 feet, leaving blue skid marks from his jeans. The driver and the front seat passenger escaped serious injury and one of the boys called 911. Trevor’s classmate and good friend, also in the back seat, died at the scene. A medical team arrived and Trevor was lifeflighted to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
Trevor’s parents, Laura and Paul, raced to be at their son’s side. Trevor was on a ventilator and his extensive injuries included a severed liver and spleen, nine broken ribs, a back fracture and a broken pelvis. He was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). On March 29, an ambulance brought Trevor to Madonna to begin his recovery.
It was heart-wrenching for Laura to see her athletic, six-foot-tall son in a back and neck brace, unable to sit up. Trevor was on a feeding tube and his voice was reduced to a whisper. “I remember waking up and knew I was in a hospital, but couldn’t remember the accident,” said Trevor. The teen struggled to make sense of it all. After three days, Trevor’s sense of humor surfaced when Laura urged him to try and speak louder. “Mom, get a hearing aid!” joked Trevor.
The main goals Trevor set for himself were to walk again and attend his high school prom. “But really, I just wanted to do everything I could do before,” said Trevor. In the beginning, therapy was challenging for Trevor. Learning to sit, stand and eventually take a shower, were often frustrating to him. “The hardest part of rehab was relearning tasks I knew how to do before the accident,” said Trevor.
Initially, Trevor’s eye-hand coordination was compromised. Failing a simple “peg in the hole” game in therapy exasperated Trevor. But as his brain healed, Trevor kept forging ahead with the repetition of therapy and found his mind and body got stronger. “Within a month, I mastered that game,” said Trevor, smiling.
Sessions on the Moveo and Bowflex helped restore the 15 pounds of muscle Trevor had lost. Within two weeks, Trevor was free of the back and neck braces, and the following week he was eating solid food. “The nurses brought that first tray of food and Trevor ate it in five minutes!” Laura said, laughing.
Fremont teen, Madonna’s Kit Scott Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC) provided Trevor with an environment to regain his academic skills. “The TLC was wonderful and Nova [Adams] was amazing,” said Laura. She appreciated Nova working as a liaison with Trevor’s school. “She educates the schools on brain injury.” Laura said it was incredible that as her son’s brain healed, he was able to progress from not verbalizing to doing math equations again.
Along with his athletic talents in basketball and running cross country, Trevor enjoys cooking. His Madonna team incorporated Trevor’s many passions into his therapy. He performed basketball drills as part of his physical therapy, learned how to balance a tray of food in the cafeteria while using his crutches, and enjoyed preparing food in the therapy kitchen. “I love to cook,” said Trevor. Amie Richardson, occupational therapist, said it was fun watching Trevor’s culinary skills blossom. “He even made fettuccine Alfredo during one session and it tasted so good,” said Amie.
Trevor’s family, including his siblings, Jordyn, Taylor and Triston, cheered every small step of his recovery. Laura said Madonna’s on-site housing was extremely helpful and enabled family to be close to Trevor. “We eliminated a lot of driving back and forth from home by staying here.”
Prom was fast approaching and part of Trevor’s occupational therapy involved an outing to rent a tuxedo. “Trevor did all the leg work to research stores and get the best price,” said Amie. Additionally, Trevor’s cognitive skills were honed by using the computer to locate stores and obtain directions. On April 23, Trevor beamed in his tuxedo, his date on his arm and surrounded by friends at the prom.
In May, Trevor transitioned to Madonna’s Rehabilitation Day Program and spent a month refining his independent living skills. On May 21, crutches cast aside, Trevor achieved his final goal to walk independently.
Trevor is grateful to be alive. “I think I had a guardian angel watching over me.” The loss of his best friend saddens him, but Trevor cherishes their memories together. Trevor looks forward to his junior year at a new school – a fresh start to his future.