Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Nebraska Dept. of Transportation employee injured at work returns home

March 28, 2023

A particularly slick and icy evening in December 2022 changed Bradley Miller’s life and his perspective. While on duty as a highway construction inspector for the Nebraska Department of Transportation, he stopped to help a stranded car. While grabbing supplies out of his work truck another car slid off the road and pinned him between the two vehicles.

“I didn't see the car coming,” Bradley said. “The vehicle lost control, came down through the ditch, hit me in my back, flung me into the back seat of my work pickup, and my front legs flew forward underneath the pickup and broke both of my legs.” Bradley spent the next week at Great Plains Health in North Platte recovering from surgery.

He then came to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals through the specialized program for injured workers, prepared to navigate life in his wheelchair and eventually return to his career and his two daughters. Worried life wouldn’t be the same, Bradley knew he had a long road ahead of him.

“The pain of surgery, the pain of the accident, wondering if I'm ever going to be able to walk again, do the things I love again, spend time with my family again,” he said. “I know that this is possible now. I owe all the power to the Madonna staff, the physical therapist pushing me every day, telling me, this is what we need to do, you can do it. It’s humbling to know that there's a place within the state of Nebraska that will and can offer that.”

Over nearly three months at Madonna, Bradley pushed himself in an intense daily physical and occupational therapy schedule. “With Work Comp, our length of stay is just a little bit different,” Sara Synek, a Madonna occupational therapist, said. Specifically for Brad, his Work Comp case manager had mentioned in our weekly team meeting that she wanted him to stay just a little bit longer until he was independent to go home. And this was really a lot better of an option for him, especially to keep him in outpatient and inpatient therapy a little bit longer so that when he did go home he didn't need any major modifications to his home or his living situation. So when we did that presented us with some additional therapy options.”

Bradley’s primary goal was to walk again, but he first needed to rebuild his confidence in himself and his body. His physician-led care team was with him, encouraging him to focus on mechanics and grow his range of motion. The final step in his recovery was participating in work re-entry tasks. “Not only were we able to focus on some of those core self-cares of dressing, bathing, grooming and really helping him get independent from that wheelchair level, we also were able to focus on some of those work reentry tasks. And that's really where we were able to incorporate Madonna's work reentry program, building on his activity tolerance and endurance and some of those long term sustained attention tasks that are really needed for that work reentry,” said Sara.

As he got stronger and his steps became more natural, his confidence grew. He transitioned to Madonna’s Rehabilitation Day outpatient program to continue to work toward complete independence, and took advantage of the Woods House, allowing him to stay in on-campus housing and practice independent self-cares on his own while continuing his rigorous daily therapy schedule.

Bradley walked out of Madonna using only a cane to steady himself. He’s returned home to North Platte to continue outpatient rehabilitation with plans to return to work as soon as this summer. Interviews, video and photos of Bradley’s time at Madonna can be provided. “When Brad left, he was walking with a walker from rehab day. And so that was so exciting and super just wonderful to see that coming from that wheelchair level, non-weight bearing, bilateral lower extremities to then walking out the front door with a walker, that's huge,” said Sara.

“I get to use 100% of my legs again and continue life as it was before. Their patients come first, and what I've gained from Madonna is probably I knew this all along, but knowing that there is a place here that can get you back to pre-accident,” said Bradley.

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