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Head Trauma Treatment Helps Utah Woman Get Back on Her Feet

May 31, 2013

"It was just two days before Thanksgiving, November 23 of 2010. I was outside and I just don't know how I fell."

That was the last thing Nancy McKane remembered. It would be several days later when she would wake up in the hospital, only to find out she had lost consciousness and been a patient in the University of Utah Health's Intensive Care Unit with a brain injury.

Nancy was walking her dog Sugar on that fateful day and thinks she may have lost her balance and slipped. Nancy's husband Bob brought her to the nearest emergency room, where doctors said she would need a higher level of care.

"Everyone said, go to U of U Health, that's the place to go when something serious like this happens, so that was it ... there was no question where we were going," says Bob.

Nancy suffered two concussions, two skull fractures and for a while, doctors were concerned she may have suffered a stroke, which tests eventually ruled out. Long term, doctors at University of Utah Health's Clinical Neurosciences Center were concerned the injury might affect her ability to walk and talk.

"I'm surprised how well I did," says Nancy. "The only complication I suffered is that I lost my sense of taste and smell."

"It was a scary experience, that's for sure, but she had excellent care and I knew she was in good hands," says Bob. Both say they are grateful to the many doctors and nurses who cared for them during the ordeal. In particular, they say Richard Schmidt, MD, Nancy's neurosurgeon, provided them with excellent care, and informed them every step of the way as to what was going on, and what they could expect.

"He was so nice to me," says Nancy. He was absolutely excellent. I can't say enough."

"I would go to him myself, if I had something wrong with me like that," says Bob. "He gave us such frequent updates, and was so great to Nancy. I would recommend him and U of U Health to anyone."

The injuries were serious and the recovery was long, but Nancy has gotten back to all her normal activities, including walking Sugar each day. With the little dog always by her side, she says her impaired sense of smell actually has a silver lining. "Now when her breath doesn't smell that great, it doesn't bother me!"