Loyola Brain Injury Patient Makes Remarkable Recovery from Jet Ski Accident
MAYWOOD, Ill. -- On his 19th birthday, Steven Patzke of Arlington Heights was hit in the head by a Jet Ski in an accident on Fox Lake.
When he woke up from a medically induced coma, Patzke was so weak on his right side that he was unable to walk or write his name.
But the Loyola University Health System patient has made an extraordinary recovery from his traumatic brain injury and now can walk and write his name again.
Patzke will begin his freshman year at Loyola University Chicago right on schedule, with a full 16-credit course load. He begins classes Monday, Aug. 30. "I plan on having a normal college experience," he said.
After the June 29 accident, Patzke spent several days at a local hospital. His family then decided to transfer him to Loyola. "He was closely monitored in a neurological intensive care unit under the care of a great doctor," said Steven's mother, Susan Carsello.
Patzke's neurologist, Dr. Jose Biller, said Patzke suffered multiple hemorrhagic contusions (bruises on the brain). "It was as if the surface of his brain had been hit by a hammer at different spots," Biller said.
Rather than treating such patients with a broad array of medications, Biller uses a more targeted approach. Too many drugs can cause serious side effects and interfere with a patient's recovery, Biller explained.
After ordering tests that ruled out seizures, sleep disorders and other possible complications of traumatic brain injury, Biller was able to cut back on Patzke's meds. Biller is chairman of the Department of Neurology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Patzke spent five days at Loyola, followed by eight days at a rehabilitation hospital. "We believe his stay at Loyola was the key to his recovery," Carsello said.
Biller said Patzke's youth was another factor in his favor. A young brain has more plasticity -- the ability of nerve cells to form new connections to compensate for a brain injury.
Patzke also gives credit to the enormous outpouring of prayers. Six priests visited him in the hospital, and 150 people attended a prayer service in a neighbor's back yard.
"I had a feeling that this was going to turn out all right," he said.