What a Difference a Year Makes: An Interview with Jackie Lithgow

Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to work with a truly inspiring young man who embodies the motto of Magee Rehabilitation: Believe in a way back. Jackie Lithgow, along with his dedicated family, have never lost hope on his road to recovery following a traumatic brain injury at a college party. The road has been anything but smooth, but Jackie has what it takes to navigate bumps and curves and create detours around pesky road blocks. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Jackie left Magee and made his transition back home on November 25, 2014, chronicled by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Jackie has continued to fight back against his brain injury and to make strides to recovery. We’ve posted about Jackie’s recovery on the blog before, but this time is special: we get to hear straight from Jackie himself. We are so thankful to Jackie for sharing, and we wish him and his family a very Happy Thanksgiving, as well as all those facing life’s battles.

Rebecca Greenhow: What were some of your biggest challenges when you returned home?
Jackie Lithgow: I don’t recall many memories from when I first returned home.  What I know is that I was not walking independently and was still in my tilt wheelchair. I even came home with my feeding tube.

RG: It’s been a year since you were discharged from Magee to home, tell us about how things have changed for you?
JL: I can now walk independently. I can eat and drink everything that I want.  I feel like a normal 20-year-old again with just a couple restrictions.

RG: What advice would you give to other patients about transitioning home?
JL: Just keep your head up, and always try to look at the positives and not the negatives. Be happy with where you are now and focus on how far you have come.

RG: You have achieved so much in this past year, are there any accomplishments that stand out for you?
JL: 1. walking independently 2. eating and speaking normally 3. participating in a 5K (I walked 2 miles without stopping!)

RG: What keeps you going when you are faced with a challenge?
JL: My belief in God. I just put my mind to it and keep working hard.

RG: We know your future is bright. What’s next for you?
JL: I plan to go back to college and look forward to getting back to living a normal life.

RG: With Thanksgiving right around the corner, what are you most thankful for?
JL: I am thankful for where I am now and for all of the support I have received from family and friends. I am also thankful for the care and lifetime friendships I made at Magee.


Photos courtesy Lisa Lithgow


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