Physical activity is a part of everyday life for Brent, 47, a landscaper and avid outdoorsman. When he fractured his spine in an accident while working at his cottage on Labor Day Weekend in 2022, there was a lot at stake for him personally and professionally.
Brent was working from a scissor lift, carrying out the long-overdue task of taking down his holiday lights, when it began to tip. He was forced to make a difficult decision: Jump from the top of the lift, 7-feet to the ground or stay on it and risk being pinned beneath it once it fully tipped. He jumped.
“As I approached the ground, my feet went out from underneath me and I landed directly on my bottom,” recalled Brent. “I was in a lot of pain when I hit the ground.”
Brent was transported to HSHS St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, a Level II Trauma Center for patients with the most extreme injuries, and where nearly 50 percent of the cases they see each year are patients who have suffered traumatic injuries due to falls. Imaging revealed Brent’s accident resulted in a burst fracture in his spine. His L1 vertebra, located in the lower back, had been compressed as a result of that hard landing on his bottom to the ground.
An injury like Brent’s requires the expertise of a neurosurgeon, specializing in the traumatic injuries of the brain and spine. He was in the right place at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital, where Prevea Health neurosurgeons in partnership with Neuroscience Group provide care for complex brain and spine injuries. Brent was paired with Dr. Sumon Bhattacharjee, one of the region’s leading neurosurgeons.
"My goal is to provide the best care possible by addressing each person’s unique needs,” says Dr. Bhattacharjee. “I make sure to provide education on the patient’s condition and treatment options to ensure clear communication and quality, successful outcomes.”
In Brent’s case, there were two options for treatment: He could wear a back brace and be on bed rest for 8 to 12 weeks to encourage the fracture to heal on its own, first - and still face the possibility of surgery; or he could have surgery right away to allow for a faster recovery time.
“Not working, and not being active is not an option for me,” said Brent. “I remember Dr. Bhattacharjee said to me, ‘I can tell just by looking at the MRI that you are a physically strong and active person, and that it’s important we are able to get you back to that lifestyle.’ He knew and understood that in my case, surgery would be my fastest road to recovery and the best chance for a successful outcome.”
Brent underwent a 4-hour surgery, led by Dr. Bhattacharjee, to stabilize his spine. “This enabled him to get up and move within a very short period of time following surgery,” said Dr. Bhattacharjee.
Thanks to Dr. Bhattacharjee, the surgical team, nurses and physical therapists, Brent had a successful outcome and recovery that aligned with his need to get back to being active as soon as possible. He was released from HSHS St. Vincent hospital just three days after surgery, and back to work and the cottage 8 weeks after that. Although with some restrictions at first, he is grateful for how well and how quickly he was able to return to his active lifestyle.
“Having confidence in your doctor, knowing you’re going to be fine and having trust in the medical staff is half the battle,” said Brent. “There was never a second I doubted the care I received. I got really lucky with having Dr. Bhattacharjee as my surgeon. I owe him a huge ‘thank you.’”
To learn more about neurosurgical care for the brain and spine with Prevea Health, in partnership with Neuroscience Group, and available at Prevea Health and HSHS hospitals in Green Bay, Oconto Falls and Sheboygan, click here.