Recovery from TBI inspires teen to pursue career in physical therapy


It was the summer after high school and 17-year-old Michael Kings had plans to attend Penn State-Harrisburg in the fall. But those plans were suddenly sidelined when a tractor trailer T-boned his friend’s car as they were driving home after a morning workout.

“I don’t remember the accident…or the month of July,” says Kings, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury from the accident. “I just remember waking up sometime in August and thinking I was in hell. The left side of my body didn’t work and I wanted it to.”

When he awoke, Kings found himself at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, where he had been transferred 10 days after the accident while still in a coma. His mother, a physical therapist at a hospital near their home, decided to send him to Bryn Mawr Rehab when a physician colleague strongly recommended the facility.

Located in Malvern, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital is a 148-bed, fully accredited facility that offers patients individualized, intensive recovery programs and access to the latest treatments and technologies. Patients are cared for by a team of experts in rehabilitative medicine, nursing, and occupational, cognitive, physical and speech therapy.

“At first I wanted to escape,” recalls Kings. “I even tried calling the police. It wasn’t until late August that something clicked and I realized I needed to work hard if I wanted to go home. Playing basketball again became my main motivation and I would ask for extra work. If my therapist gave me 12 reps, I would do 13. I put all my effort into rehabbing instead of escaping.”

Kings credits his therapists and the therapies available at Bryn Mawr Rehab for getting him back to “being okay.”

“Everyone there was amazing. My physical therapists were Hillary and Susan – I called her ‘beast mode Sue’ because she always gave me these crazy, intense exercises. Then there was Jessica who was really supportive and helped me through everything,” says Kings. “Everybody there was really friendly. I was blessed to be at Bryn Mawr Rehab.”

Kings also credits his recovery to the hospital’s state-of-the-art Lokomat Pro – a robotic treadmill that helps people learn to walk again. Offered at only a handful of medical centers in the nation, the Lokomat Pro combines robotic technology with virtual reality to keep patients motivated and working toward their goals. He also enjoyed riding horses as part of equine therapy.

“It wasn’t just the physical and occupational therapy,” adds Kings. “All of the other recreational therapies – like painting and gardening – were really good too.”

Kings’ hard work paid off and he proudly “hobbled” out of Bryn Mawr Rehab without a wheelchair or walker when he was discharged. Since then, he has switched his focus from basketball to weightlifting and has regained much of his strength, something that is “still far from what it should be, but it’s much better than it was.”

He also switched his educational focus from engineering to physical therapy. He currently attends East Stroudsburg University, where he is studying exercise science.

“Bryn Mawr Rehab is a great place and I highly recommend it,” says Kings. “I consider it one of the greatest blessings in my life that I was able to rehab there. They did the best for me while I was there and it’s greatly appreciated.”  


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