In the early morning light of a steamy July day four years ago. Scott Row decided to see just how fast his car would go. That’s the last thing he remembers about that day. Careening at 120 miles per hour, Row lost control of his car and was flung through the windshield. He remained in a coma for a month and a half. As the result of a severe concussion and a stroke, he is paralyzed on the entire right side of his body.

Thanks to the work of the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation, Row, now twenty-one, was one of four Dallasites chosen to represent the United States at the Paralympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, in October. He won a silver medal in track. Today, Row and the other veterans of the rehab program are pushing themselves to reach goals set for them by their team of friends at Baylor.

The seventy-four beds at the Institute are filled year-round with patients on the mend from traumatic head injuries, spinal damage, strokes, amputations, and other orthopedic and neurological problems. Opened in 1981, the Baylor satellite has seen its share of hard-luck cases leave with happy endings.

Take Craig Guidry, for example. While on vacation in California, Guidry and a buddy pulled over to rest in one of the state’s parks. When a trucker lost control of his vehicle along a winding mountain road overlooking the park, the rig landed on top of Guidry’s car, crushing him inside. Guidry was left a quadriplegic for life, but he credits the extensive therapy he received at Baylor for his quick return to work at IBM and his ability to care for himself again.

A team of seventeen specialists, from occupational therapists and chaplains to rehabilitation nurses and speech-language pathologists, designs a rehab program tailored to each individual, says Stevie Jo Brown, director of marketing for the institute. Patients receive three to six hours of therapy each day within the hospital setting, and when well enough they are taken out into the community to grapple with new obstacles.

“For those left to live with a wheelchair, we take them to department stores to teach them how to try on clothes, to grocery stores where they’ll have to learn how to maneuver a shopping cart in sync with their wheelchair, to the airport to show them the easiest way to board a plane,” says Brown.

The center also acts as a job training and placement organization. “Because of the incredible medical advancements, we now have come to expect even the weakest to survive and to be returned to the community,” Brown says. Thanks to the Baylor Institute, they can return with skills and confidence.

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