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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Dad praises Madonna for son’s recovery from brain injury caused by motorcycle crash

February 09, 2018

Jake Onstott stands proudly with his Madonna care team , who honored the South Dakotan with a Spirit Award for his positive attitude and hard work during therapy. Jake's good-natured personality shined through as he worked hard to build back strength and mobility, helping him achieve his goal of walking out of the hospital unassisted. 

Jeff Onstott walks proudly beside son Jake, amazed at the steps he’s made after being involved in a motorcycle accident back in mid-September near his home in Yankton, South Dakota.

"He’s my hero. He’s tough. He’s done things since he’s been here that I didn’t think were possible," said Jeff Onstott, Jake's dad.   

For Jake, what’s possible is walking unassisted hundreds of feet after spending seven weeks recovering at Madonna’s Omaha Campus. Despite suffering severe injuries including brain trauma and the loss of his left arm, Jake’s attitude is positive as he moves forward.   

"From the start until now I’ve realized that it’s kind of putting the past behind you because you can really never go back. I'm looking toward the future and what it still holds," said Jake Onstott, a traumatic brain injury survivor.

Pushing himself during each therapy session. Setting goals and then going above and beyond of what’s asked.

“If I tell him I want him to do so many repetitions, he’s going to do five more to make sure he’s putting that effort in. His great attitude is why we’ve seen the success that he’s had within therapy,” said Drew Burggraff, a physical therapist with Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. 

Whether tying his shoes …

"Good and tight as I like to say," said Jake.

Or using the driving simulator, he’s learning new ways to complete everyday tasks. 

"Being a one-armed guy and trying to keep upright with one arm. Oh man, I was beyond freaking out. The second day I was able to balance without using my hand to steady myself as much and complete more tasks on my own. Once in therapy I was hitting the beach ball back just right and got it to start spinning. It caused me to start giggling and I almost fell but I was able to actually catch myself. I'm just trying to have fun and make people laugh," said Jake. 

Jake’s good-natured personality shines through as he works hard to build back strength and mobility. Meanwhile, Dad says Madonna has changed his son’s life.

"The first day we were here we were walking down the hallway and saw a sign that said that Madonna was started by the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton South Dakota, so we’ve come full circle," said Jeff.

"If you have a brain injury or other debilitating illnesses this is the place to come to rehab because they’re fantastic here. They’ve given me my son back and I don’t know how to repay them,” said Jeff.

"Each day is a new day and how can we move forward and do more and enjoy it. And that’s why I have fun with that. If you can actually enjoy it and sit and realize we’re another day past," said Jake.  

Jake received individualized care for his brain injury. Learn more about Madonna's traumatic brain injury program including the specialized equipment patients may use during therapy.