Your Health Today Magazine

Finding a 'New Normal'

Dwayne Brooks

Dwayn Brooks Broke His Back, But Not His Spirit.

While cutting tree limbs at his family’s home in Fenton, Dwayn Brooks was knocked off a ladder by a falling branch. He was unable to move and his life was changed instantly and forever. 

When paramedics rushed him into the Emergency Department, members of St. Anthony’s Level II trauma team were ready. As a Level II Trauma Center, St. Anthony’s has the staff and resources available to manage the care of severely injured patients at all times. St. Anthony’s is the only Level II Trauma Center in south St. Louis County and Jefferson County.

“It was clear from both Dwayn’s clinical presentation and the findings on magnetic residence imaging (MRI) that he had sustained a spine fracture causing permanent paralysis,” said  Julie Weber, M.D., trauma surgeon on call in the Emergency Department.

Dwayn, then 37, had sustained a complete spinal cord injury. To maximize Dwayn’s chance for recovery, St. Anthony’s neurosurgeon Fangxiang Chen, M.D., performed emergency surgery to decompress Dwayn’s spinal cord and to stabilize his thoracic spine. 

“I spent nine days in the Neuro ICU unit and was cared for by some of the greatest nurses and doctors on earth,” Dwayn said. “My stay in Acute Rehab was simply amazing:
I came in scared, and I left confident. I would like to thank everyone who has cared for me and touched my life.”

 Dwayn’s positive outlook on life inspired everyone, said Kim Boyer, a registered nurse in the Surgical ICU. “In Acute Rehab, he worked to lift the spirits of the other patients,” Boyer said. “His family is amazing, and they remind you that you can’t take things for granted.” 

Since completing his therapy in Acute Rehab late last spring, Dwayn has coped with many challenges in adapting to his “new norm.” With the help of his son, Layton Mosley, and his best friend, Aaron Belt, he has been able once again to enjoy his two favorite hobbies, hunting and fishing. 

“I have learned I cannot let this wheelchair hold me back,” Dwayn said. “I am also blessed to be married to a woman like Crystal, who takes such great care of me and my children while working a full-time job. My wife and kids will drop anything to help me, and I cannot make it without them. It is truly amazing how close we have become.

“My goals for the future are simple. Number one is to get back upright and walk again. Number two is to inspire others and to be a volunteer at St. Anthony’s to help others with spinal cord injuries. St. Anthony’s has the best caregivers and doctors a person could ask for.”