• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Kelly Sander

Hello, my name is Kelly Sander.

My accident occurred on September 6, 1997, while I was trying to bridle a horse but the horse wouldn't take the bit.  With the bit hanging loose, the horse swung its head and caused the bit to hit me on the right side of my head fracturing my skull.  I was not found until late that afternoon and was airlifted to Brackenridge Trauma Center in Austin Texas.  I transferred from there to Vanderbilt Stallworth in October 1997.  I underwent brain surgery on Monday following the skull fracture due to swelling of the brain and a hematoma.  I was in a coma for three and a half weeks (so I have been told) but I personally have no knowledge or memory of being in a coma or of the accident itself.

I graduated the Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Inpatient Program in late November 1997, Was advanced on Dec. 10 to the outpatient graduate program. Then in January 1998, I had advanced even beyond that program and was honored with a graduation ceremony and Party. I called my party "Moving On" and sent out invitations and all the hoopla begetting the event.  I started The Tennessee Rehabilitation Center (TRC)TBI program in Sept. 1998; and quit in March 1999. The reason I quit is that I was treated much lower than my skills/intelligence allowed. The one good thing about the program is that it did net me my driver’s license. With that in hand I went job hunting. 

Landed a job at Shoneys as a door greeter, due to my finding and acquiring a job, the TRC staff/board felt I deserved yet another graduation, so I was graduated from yet another TBI program in August 1999.  While in residence at TRC, many other Survivors endured much of what I did and that causes untold stress. To help relieve tired and bunched up neck or shoulder muscles I would give my fellow students a neck rub. Many said I was so very good and helped them so much that I should pursue Massage as a career.  I took their advice and began seeking Massage Therapy schools in Nashville, Tennessee which I live close to. After a few months I became interested in The Institute of Massage Therapy and Movement. I contacted TRC and asked how to go about getting into school.

I was told to contact the Tennessee Dept. of Vocational Rehabilitation. This I did, was assigned a counselor and she worked out a course study plan/program and arranged the funds for the school.  I started the school known as ITMM in April 2000. Due to a fall in May in which I fractured 3 bones on my left wrist primarily the ulna and had to wear a 
cast thus hindering my practicing massage, I had to drop out and pick back up in September. During my out time, I read most of my class books and prepared myself to re-enter school well acquainted with what I may have missed. The Massage Therapy program was an intensive 500 hours 37 and a half weeks’ course. 

I graduated the course on April 13, 2001 and received my License as a 
Massage therapist two weeks later. I now know every muscle its function and bone in the human body. While I, from experience know that survival of TBI is in no way related to the Survival of being on an island as the television show would have one believe; TBI is survivable. The local paper here in my county has just published a human interest story on me, my recovery and my business.  This has somehow turned me into some type of inspiration/mentor.

Thank you TBI One Love!

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