Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

Never be ashamed of a scar.
It simply means you were stronger
than whatever tried to hurt you. 

-Author Unknown


Never be ashamed of a scar . . . Some scars you can see. Some scars are invisible. All scars tell a story about someone who was brave, about someone who survived something so serious that it left a mark. Whether you see scars on your body or you feel mental or emotional scars on your life journey, you're not alone. You are strong. You are brave. You survived. 

It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you . . . Whether you've battled a car wreck, a work-related injury, a fire with burns, or a violent assault, you're still here. And we're thankful. You are a unique individual with personal strengths to share and a survivor story to inspire others to keep going. You are stronger because you had to be and each scar reminds you and others of the challenges you have already overcome.
Survive. Connect. Rebuild. 

Super Survivors

Highlighting Trauma Survivor and TSN Coordinator, Kimiko 
Kimiko's Survivor Story

I do not remember the day of my accident, but the stories are scary. My husband told me that we were making our normal Christmas rounds, and we stopped by my mom’s house. She asked if we could help move a tire. When we saw how massive the tractor tire was, we immediately said no, but she was adamant, and so we attempted to help. I was told we stopped for some time because of exhaustion. At that time, we told her that we could not move the tire and she would have to wait until someone else could help. She called my younger brothers (age 8 and 6) to come. My husband and I both knew the tire was too heavy for them, so we proceeded to move the tire again. Shortly after, I lost my footing and the tire fell on both of us. Luckily, my husband managed to wiggle his way from under the tire, however, more of this tire enveloped my body so unfortunately, I was not able to do the same. My husband stayed with me to try to keep me calm while my mom went to get something to help pry me from under the tire. I was told the last thing I said to my husband was I love you, before passing out. The ambulance arrived but the crew was unable to get the tire off me, so they called the fire department. It took 6 men to free me from the tire. I was down for an unknown amount of time. EMS started CPR with a return of spontaneous circulation after one round of compressions. I was intubated on the scene and transported to the Medical Center, Navicent Health with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of a 3T. I had a severe anoxic brain injury, due to my out of hospital cardiac arrest. Upon arrival, there was a collaboration between specialists, mainly the trauma team and the medical director for the adult Palliative Care service (of the department I work for) to start the normothermia protocol, also known as therapeutic temperature management. My body was only lowered to 36 degrees Celsius due to my shivering versus having seizures. I was posturing and having sympathetic storming. I was transferred to the ICU, where I was in a coma for eight days. I was told that when I woke up, I would constantly repeat things and my short-term memory was seemingly non-existence. I could not hold my arm up against gravity. 
What was recovery like? 
I was transferred from Medical Center, Navicent Health to the Shepherd’s Center on January 9, 2018. While at the Shepherd’s Center, I worked diligently with physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and a psychiatrist. I was discharged on February 1, 2018. I was sent home to start outpatient physical therapy at Rehabilitation Hospital, Navicent Health. I was able to ambulate with a walker for short distances but used a wheelchair for longer distances. I had progressed to a rollator by the end of therapy. I am still working on my confidence with walking independently along with my fear of falling. My feet seem to be hypersensitive to texture thus I had to find the perfect pair of tennis shoes to function. I still have my good and bad days but overall, I am just elated to be alive. 

Why did you want to get involved with the TSN program? Or Why do you want to share your story with other survivors/loved ones?
I returned to work April 30, 2018 with a new perspective and outlook on life. I was once a caregiver, then became a therapist (which I should be fully licensed in a month or two), and now I have been a patient. I say that my experience has brought me full circle in my career. I can join, build rapport and truly empathize with both the patients and families. There were some adjustments that needed to be made for me when I returned to work because of my inability to ambulate well. I had to figure out different routes throughout the hospital since I was in a wheelchair. The facilities maintenance department adjusted doors near my work area so that I was able to get through them safely. I also met with the trauma services. They shared with me that they want to become a part of the Trauma Survivors Network and would like me to be the coordinator. I thought this was awesome given my expertise as a therapist, having first hand experience as being a trauma patient and since trauma was my new passion. I seized the opportunity since I wanted to do something to give back to our patients and families and provide a safe space for the families and patients to voice their fears and concerns. Thus, being the coordinator provides me with his opportunity. 

Highlighting Trauma Survivor, Courtney
Courtney's Survivor Story

On November 11, 2016 my life changed in more ways than one. It all started out as a normal day. I had gone to work that day. I headed south of where I lived to pick up my mom’s ex’s daughter that night. I guess it was around 7 or 8 o'clock at night and as I was driving, my car broke down. My family told me that I had pulled over and I had gotten out to see [what was wrong with the car]. I was told that while I was trying to get back into my car, I was hit at highway speeds around 60 MPH (because where I was at
the speed limit was 65 here in Illinois.) The witness who called in stated that she watched [the driver] cross the fog line and hit my car and [she saw] me fly. My little sister was in my car and she watched me get hitjust a couple of weeks before her 16th birthday. My sister and a couple people saved my life along with the first responders. I don’t remember that night because I was heavily sedated for the next few days. That night, I had to be airlifted to St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois due to how severe my injuries were. When I had arrived at the hospital, no one knew how severe my injuries were until the doctors saw me at the Emergency Room. They took me to surgery. My family tells me that after I arrived at the hospital, they weren’t allowed to see me for at least 12 hours. My family also said they had a helicopter on standby because they didn't know what would happen during that night. That night, I went from never breaking any bones to breaking almost my whole body. My injuries where a C2 fracture, T and L fractures in my back, two fingers, my left shin, my right hip (where I was technically amputated), and tore everything in my right knee. 

Since November 11, 2016, I have endured so much pain. I went from never having a surgery to having ten so far. After I got out of the hospital and went to rehabilitation, I had to go to my doctors’ appointments on a stretcher. On December 27, 2016, I ended up having to go to the hospital due to having a bad infection. I have gone from recovering to getting really sick. I had to go through a bunch of tests, so they could find out why I was sick. I had to go through more surgeries for the infection and to help me get better. I have gone through countless hours of rehab. I have had to go through a lot of physical therapy. I have had to go through numerous braces and numerous tests just to make sure the infection was gone for my surgery in September 2017. After surgery in September 2017, I couldn’t put any weight on my leg until around December of that year. Around that time, my one-year anniversary happened. On June 26, 2018, I went in for my 10th or 11th surgery. My surgeon put me in a cast so that I would heal. On August 16, 2018, I started physical therapy again, so I could get range of motion in my knee as well as being allowed to be toe touch weight bearing. I have been doing intense therapy since then to be able to get my knee to at least 90 degrees.
What was recovery like? 
Recovery for me has been one of the hardest things I have ever gone through because I had to relearn everything. I have gone from being independent to needing help and then somewhat independent. I have had to relearn how to feed myself, dress myself and bathe, as well as having to relearn how to walk. One of the hardest things I have faced during recovery is adjusting to all my braces, scars, and the fact my body won’t ever be the same as it used to be. I have also had to learn how to forgive the person that hit me. I have also had to get used to the fact that I developed foot drop or drop foot. My doctors have literally seen me go from a stretcher, to a wheelchair, to a walker, to two crutches, to one crutch, and then none. I have had to go back to a wheelchair and crutches but that is just temporary. I have had numerous people watch me get better, and I have had numerous people ask me what happened. My surgeon told me that he is proud of me and how much I have matured. He’s been my surgeon since my accident, and that meant the world to me. Although my recovery was hard, I had a good support system between my family, my friends and my surgeons.      

Why did you want to get involved with the TSN program? Or Why do you want to share your story with other survivors/loved ones?
I found the TSN program back in November 2017, right around the time of my one-year accident anniversary because I was looking for survivors like me. When I got on the Trauma Survivors Network website, I was hesitant to share my story, but then I found people that had some of the same injuries and something like my wreck. I want to share my story for survivors so that they can know it’s not the end and you will get better. It might not seem like it right now, but it will get better. I also want to share my story because you never know who might need advice. I want to share my story with loved ones and show them how much I persevered through the pain and never once gave up
I got close, but I had the support of my family. 
Highlighting Trauma Survivor, Dylan

Dylan's Survivor Story

My name is Dylan and I’m 26 years old. In November of 2016, I made a big move from Connecticut to San Diego, with intentions of “escaping” my past and starting fresh. The sun may have been brighter in San Diego but it was no escape. The best word to describe my life during this time was “stuck”. I had no plan of what I wanted in life and wasn’t proactive to search for one. After living in San Diego for 10 months, being “stuck” became permanent in my mind in a split second. On September 2, 2017 Labor Day weekend, while napping, I heard fearful screams from my roommate. As I sprinted to my bedroom door, the piercing sound of our fire alarm was sent through my entire body. Smoke filled the rooms and a glowing flame was growing outside our apartment door. Oil was being used to cook within a pot and it flashed over to flames. My roommate grabbed the pot by the handles and dropped it outside our apartment complex on the concrete. Without thinking or consulting anyone, I soaked a bath towel and attempted to smother the fire. Instantly, I was splattered with oil and my momentum caused me to fall on top of the pot. My legs became engulfed and I rolled around for what seemed to be minutes but from what I’m told, it could have been 20 seconds. 
Without going into the details of the moments directly after my accident, I will jump ahead. I ended up burning 54% of my body (mainly my legs) 3rd and 2nd degree. I was placed into an induced coma for about 2 weeks and underwent several grafting surgeries.

What was recovery like? 
I stayed in UCSD medical center for almost 2 months before a 2 week stay at an inpatient rehab center, until I was well enough to make the flight back to Connecticut for family support. 
This year has been tough including PTSD/emotional trauma, learning to walk, dressing changes, physical therapy, severe nerve pain, compression garments and back surgery. That being said, through the support of my family and community, I am at a point I can honestly say that I am a better version of myself, even before my accident.
Why did you want to get involved with the TSN program? Or Why do you want to share your story with other survivors/loved ones?
I want my life to consist of helping people reach that same re-evaluation and understand that trauma is traumabig or small. I hope to be a lending ear and learn from others through this Trauma SURVIVOR Network. “If you set your value low, the world won’t change your price”
-- Dylan

Welcome New TSN Sites

The American Trauma Society would like to welcome these Trauma Centers and Rehabilitation Hospitals, who have just started a TSN program in the last few months. Click on each trauma center name to learn more about this TSN program or to contact the TSN Coordinator there.
University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, CO

UPMC Susquehanna in Williamsport, PA

Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, OR


TSN Program Highlights 
Annual Trauma Survivors Celebration
at The George Washington University Hospital
The Trauma and TSN Teams at The George Washington University Hospital (GWUH) in Washington, D.C. recently hosted their 7th Annual Trauma Survivors Celebration. They invited many of their severely injured patients from the past year along with their families to honor them with an award and to give them an opportunity to reunite with local EMS teams and the trauma teams at GWUH who provided life-saving care. Several city officials and community partners who have roles in the prevention of trauma also joined in the event. 
Dr. Babak Sarani, Director of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, presented several awards to amazing trauma survivors who have overcome many challenges in recovery. Survivors and trauma professionals shared stories of resilience while having a unique opportunity to reconnect in person. Words of deep appreciation and thanks were shared. Special thanks to TSN Coordinator, Helaina Roisman, LICSW, the Trauma Team at GWUH, and the many first responders for all their efforts in supporting trauma survivors and families. 
TSN Peer Visitors from the
University of Tennessee Medical Center
Compete in Adaptive Ice Hockey
Trauma Survivors/TSN Peer Visitors, Carly and Tim, from the University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) in Knoxville, TN took to the ice to compete in the 2019 Sled Hockey Tournament. They were cheered on by friends, family, and TSN Coordinators Therese Zaltash, M.S. and Elizabeth Waters, LAPSW. As TSN Peer Visitors at UTMC, Carly and Tim often share their survivor stories to encourage other trauma survivors and families who are very early in their recovery process. They also inspire us with their drive and determination in competitive adaptive sports. When asked to share about their best moments of the tournament, Carly shares she enjoys, "the comradery and socializing with everyone in the Sled hockey league. People with a common interest all over the southeast get to come together and be part of a community of Sled hockey and doing what they love." Tim shares, "I think meeting all the other players and hearing their stories is the best part of the tournament, however being able to get out there on the ice and compete against them is so much fun. After the game is over and we are waiting on our next game to start is when you really have the opportunity to get to know some of the other players from different teams that are also waiting to play. I have established a friendship with at least one player on each of the teams, and we are now friends on Facebook and stay in touch with one another all year round. To me there's no better feeling than to have friends that have been through what you have been through, because you create a unique friendship that will more than likely last forever.”
April is National Adaptive Sports Month. When asked why it is important for trauma survivors to play adaptive sports, Tim shared, " “It is important to me because I have always been very active up until my accident. Up until this time last year, it never crossed my mind that I could still play sports and be competitive. I just happen to go to an adaptive sport expo, and met a couple of people that were trying to get sled hockey started in our city. They invited me to a practice and I got in a sled and the rest is history, I fell in love with it. Now I'm the one approaching people and encouraging them to do the same. Besides that, it's a great feeling to get out there with your peers and play the game of sled hockey and create lifelong friends.” Carly shared that adaptive sport "helps you truly identify with yourself, especially if you played sports before your injury. To overcome the same challenges or obstacles that others said you would never be able to achieve, is powerful. It helps you take back your life."

Get your t-shirt in time for
Trauma Awareness Month! 

TSN and ATS T-shirt: 
May is Trauma Awareness Month. This year, the American Trauma Society (ATS) and Trauma Survivors Network (TSN) will be celebrating the strength of survivors and raising awareness about trauma with a creative t-shirt campaign. A special group sale of the 2019 TSN and ATS t-shirt will be open from mid-March through mid-April! The sale will close just in time for t-shirts to be mailed to each survivor, family member/friend of survivor, or trauma medical professional who orders a shirt by May 1.

Have Fun Celebrating Survivors: 
Each day of Trauma Awareness Month, everyone who has purchased a TSN and ATS t-shirt can share with TSN social media a picture of themselves wearing their TSN and ATS t-shirt showing something they enjoy: A morning cup of coffee? A hike on the trail? Hand cycling with the team? A lunch date with friends? The message is clear: Even after trauma, life is good. Sure, adjusting to the new normal after trauma can be difficult, but that's why the TSN community is here to support you. Trauma Survivors, family and friends of survivors, and trauma professionals can share a picture of themselves wearing their t-shirts to show support for trauma survivors and the TSN Community. All profits from this sale will directly support the TSN Program to continue to help survivors and families throughout the U.S. and Canada. 
Survive. Connect. Rebuild. 

How Can I Order My T-shirt? 
The t-shirt is a Gildan Soft Style shirt. The sizes available will range from both youth and adult sizes. T-shirt sizes are gender neutral. The cost will include the t-shirt and shipping/handling. Keep watching (in early March) in your e-mail and on TSN social media for the TSN and ATS T-Shirt Sale with group order link to be announced. Please direct any questions to Eileen Flores at
National Trauma Survivors Day is May 15, 2019.
On this specific day, Trauma Survivors, Family Members and Friends of Survivors, as well as Trauma Professionals are invited to share their support for survivors.
Keep watching (in April) for the blank, printable signs to be shared.
You can write a personal message of support and share a picture with your sign on TSN Social Media. May 15
th will be a big day of support for trauma survivors.
Please join us!
Connect with the TSN on social media:

Contact Eileen Flores, National TSN Coordinator to:
  • Join the TSN
  • Share your story
  • Get more information
Copyright © 2018, American Trauma Society, All rights reserved.

Trauma Survivors Network
c/o American Trauma Society
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