Growing up in Garnett, Kansas, Carter Edgecomb spent his childhood outdoors. From playing baseball for Anderson County High School to hunting and fishing, Carter liked to be on the move.
But on Thanksgiving Day in 2021, a serious car accident stopped the 18-year-old in his tracks.
“I ran out just as they were sliding him into the ambulance, and I said, ‘Carter, mom is here,’ and he moaned, and that’s the first miracle I’ve held onto through this whole process and journey,” Julie Edgecomb, Carter’s mother, recalled. “When he heard my voice, he did respond.”
Life-flighted to KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Carter’s family and friends prayed for a miracle. Despite suffering a traumatic brain injury, Carter started improving every day. Then, his parents needed to answer the question: Where should Carter go next? After doing some quick research, the choice became clear: Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals.
“When we said we were going to Madonna, 12 to 18 people reached out and said, ‘That is the best place. My aunt went there, my cousin went there, my brother went there, or I’m a therapist and that is literally where I would send my own child,’” Julie said.
Carter came to Madonna unable to eat, talk, or walk. However, thanks to Carter’s years of sports training, that quickly began to change. After saying his first word since the accident, Carter continued his momentum in speech therapy. Madonna’s speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, help patients overcome barriers and improve their communication.
“The first week he was here he met seven goals which is unheard of,” Sarah Messerli, a Madonna SLP said. “We want them to be able to communicate in some way, so we start with some low-tech AAC where they can use pictures or point to words to help communicate. That is something Carter could do right away.”
“When I came to Madonna, I wasn’t talking yet,” Carter said “Sarah in speech therapy helped me and got me talking.”
In addition to communicating and enjoying food from Madonna’s cafeteria, Carter started taking steps. With the help of the NuStep T5 Cross Trainer, the eager outdoorsman put his legs in motion. With assistance, Carter was able to walk up and down the hallways at Madonna inspiring those around him.
“He has to do hard things including getting back that upper body strength and keeping your balance,” Julie said. “He’s just persevered through that, and I’m super proud of him.”