Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

Rehabilitation Helps Motorcyclist Live Life to the Fullest

Vaughn Thornton geared up for a leisurely Sunday afternoon ride in early 2016.

“It was what people would call a chamber of commerce kind of day-80 degrees and sunny.”
He knew the importance of motorcycle safety like helmets and protective gear, as well as the best ways to protect oneself from the elements and other drivers.

But what he didn’t expect was to be the victim of an accident himself, a life-altering one.
Vaughn was t-boned and thrown from his motorcycle into a nearby ditch at a two stop intersection. Thankfully, a registered EMT saw the accident happen and ran down to aid him until ambulance could arrive. And that’s when Vaughn knew something wasn’t right.

“Your leg’s in bad shape, but hold on tight, help’s on the way,” Vaughn remembers hearing through the haze. He had never broken a bone and thought that’s what it must feel like.

But this was just the beginning of a multiple month journey to recovery. After being transported to UF Health’s certified trauma center, Dr. Sarah Graham, emergency medicine resident, was the first physician he saw, along with Dr. Chancellor Gray, orthopaedic surgeon. They told him they’d do everything in their power to save his leg, but he needed surgery, quickly.

UF Health Rehab Hospital celebrates Rehab Awareness Week

After surgery, he was cared for by Don Thornton, RN, who cared for him until Dr. Kalia Sadasivan, chief of orthopaedic trauma, came in, to let him know that the leg was still in pretty bad shape. Vaughn would need an amputation. After carefully explaining his reasoning to Vaughn, Vaughn agreed that this seemed like the best course of action, since two of the three main blood vessels to the foot were destroyed.

A few days later the successful, below the knee amputation took place. At this time Vaughn was introduced to the idea of staying at UF Health Shands Rehab Hospital, where he could get in depth physical and occupational therapy to aid in his recovery.

“I’ve talked to many people who didn’t make that stop at the rehab hospital, but I found my time at UF Health Shands Rehab Hospital to be invaluable,” Vaughn said.

The UF Health Shands Rehab Hospital team helped teach Vaughn how to walk, bathe and maneuver safely in his day to day activities. These skills have helped him to be able to function in his household, while not completely relying on his family’s help.

Vaughn is safely recovering and has even been walking with a prosthesis. He looks forward to learning new skills and the best way to tackle this next phase of life. After having a Certified Peer Visitor spend time with him after his amputation, he joined on the Gator Amp support groups held at the rehab hospital, where he is able to discuss other issues with limb loss with fellow amputees. He is still in awe of the care he received from UF Health.

“The care we received was fantastic. I can’t help but to sing everyone’s praises-from the assistants who welcomed us, to the nurses who cared for us and the physicians who did the surgery.”

Now his wife says if he ever misses the feeling of the wind on his face, they can get a Jeep.

About the Author

Amanda Austin's picture

Amanda Austin

Social Media Coordinator

Amanda manages UF Health's Facebook and Twitter accounts, and curates information about healthy and wellness, health industry news, and updates on UF Health research....Read More