Tackling Trauma Together
UF Health Jacksonville’s multidisciplinary teams are trained to save lives. Specialists are on site around the clock to perform procedures at a moment’s notice. In Robert’s case, it was never a matter of how, only a matter of what to address first as everyone jumped into action.
Crandall repaired the bowel perforation while other specialists tackled the blood clot. Although successful, this created the potential for another challenge — brain swelling. By the end of the day, Robert was admitted to the trauma intensive care unit.
“One of the problems with a stroke is you can rapidly develop brain swelling,” said Carlos Arce, MD, a UF Health neurosurgeon.
Robert’s team kept a steadfast watch over him throughout the weekend, noting his decline on Saturday. A decompressive craniotomy is not always necessary, but by Sunday, Arce determined there was a need for more surgery to prevent brain damage.
“As the brain swells, the pressure increases inside the head. If the brain sustains damage, you can die from that,” Arce explained. “We removed a portion of the skull to relieve the pressure, providing much-needed extra space.”
The procedure was a success, but there was still one more medical mountain to climb. Robert’s spinal cord injury, the one problem thought to be a priority upon initial examination, had taken a backseat to the critical issues revealed by the CT scan. Alcindor, who participated in helping with some of the treatment for the stroke, was now ready to address the fractured lumbar spine.
“We felt it was safe enough. We stabilized his spine and replaced the bone flap in his head,” Alcindor said.
The next step was letting Robert recover from his stroke and all the other injuries. The team monitored him for five weeks to ensure he was recovering. The staff kept Claudia informed every step of the way.
“I was always in the loop,” Claudia said. “It’s overwhelming if you’re not in the medical field, but they talked to me in ways I could understand. I always had a voice. I felt like I was part of their team.”