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CNS TBI and Stroke Survivor Successfully Returns to Work

CNS TBI and Stroke Survivor Successfully Returns to Work

CNS TBI and Stroke Survivor Successfully Returns to Work

Former CNS patient Craig Northcutt has proudly worked for his Native American tribe, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, since 1994. But on September 7, 2012, Craig was severely injured in an ATV accident while deer hunting with his best friend, James. When Craig flipped out of the ATV, his head began to bleed, and he fainted. James immediately called 911 and started performing CPR until paramedics arrived. During Craig’s airlift to a nearby hospital, his brain bleed resulted in a stroke.  

Craig underwent an emergency craniotomy and spent the next three months recovering from both a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke in several hospitals. Craig’s injuries impacted his speech, cognitive abilities, behavior, and ability to walk. Craig’s wife was determined to find a neurorehabilitation clinic that would address his specific needs. She called the Centre for Neuro Skills’ Irving clinic, which was located 3 hours away from their home in Oklahoma.  

On December 4, 2012, Craig began an inpatient program at the CNS Dallas clinic. When he first arrived at CNS, Craig was hyper-resistant and reacted angrily to therapy. He refused to participate in education and speech therapy, not understanding why he needed help.  

“I felt like a young kid trapped inside my own body,” said Craig. 

However, Craig started to build strong connections with his peers and staff. In fact, Craig discovered that a nursing residential staff was a fellow member of his tribal nation. Craig felt like he was part of a community again. 

“My only goal was to get better and return to work with the Choctaw Nation,” said Craig.  

CNS PatientThrough group counseling and behavior therapy, Craig learned that rehabilitation was necessary for him to achieve this goal. Craig worked closely with his physical therapist, Whitney, to regain his strength and with doctors to correct his vision. After 9 months of intensive neurorehabilitation therapy, Craig successfully began walking with a quad-cane and regained his cognitive abilities.  

This year, Craig celebrates his 11-year stroke anniversary and 30-year work anniversary with the Choctaw Nation. As the Senior Tribal Employee Advocate, Craig is part of the organization’s workforce development program. Craig helps tribal nation members develop their professional skillset and find job positions in the workforce.  

To honor Native American Heritage Month in November, Craig organized a tribal performance event at the CNS Irving clinic. Craig is passionate about his tribal heritage and continues to spread awareness about stroke and TBI. He urges all ATV-riders to use helmets when riding. Craig and James have passed out over 100 helmets to youth across high schools to raise awareness.