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The Road to Recovery

October 16, 2020

Experts at HSC helped patient get back on track after neck injury

After a harrowing jobsite injury, Scott Normand spent three months in a surgically affixed halo and an additional two months in a neck brace before being able to take the wheel. “I was extremely fortunate to not lose my ability to move and walk; however, I was devastated to learn that I may never drive again due to losing neck mobility. I am a car enthusiast and driving is a passion of mine.”

 

January 28, 2016, was the last day Scott Normand would drive to work—or anywhere— for over 150 days. At age 24, a 500-pound beam crushed Normand’s vertebrae on a jobsite.

Normand was working on-site at a house he was designing when the beam, which wasn’t properly secured, fell from above onto Normand’s neck.

“All I can remember was walking towards the house. I blacked out when the beam hit me. I credit my work crew for keeping me still on the ground while we waited for the ambulance—even when I regained consciousness and tried to get up,” says Normand.

Normand was initially rushed to Grace Hospital before being transferred to HSC Winnipeg after tests revealed Normand required the expertise of Dr. Michael Goytan, orthopedic surgeon and Head of the Winnipeg Spine Program at HSC.

“I was in and out of consciousness—whenever I woke up, I was in the worst pain I’d ever felt,” says Normand.

Normand had three factures on his vertebrae that needed to be reset with a halo crown, a device that consists of a plastic vest connected to rods that are surgically anchored to a patient’s head. The halo prevents movement of the head and spine, allowing bones to heal.

Normand spent six days healing at HSC while Workers Compensation worked with HSC’s Patient Services to outfit the Normands’ house with a hospital bed and various items that would help him recuperate at home.

“HSC’s Patient Services took care of outfitting my parent’s home with devices to aid my recovery, such as a hospital bed,” says Normand.

The winter of 2016 proved to be the hardest and longest Normand had ever experienced. He spent the next three months house-bound in his halo while his vertebrae reset. Thankfully, Dr. Goytan and the staff of HSC were there every step of the way.

Normand eating breakfast while his halo crown enables his neck to heal.

“On top of ensuring that I was hitting the healing benchmarks, Dr. Goytan truly took an interest in my aspiration of being an architect during my follow-up appointments,” recalls Normand. “He encouraged me to pursue my Master of Architecture degree and was intent in seeing my portfolio of work.”

“I was extremely fortunate to not lose my ability to move and walk; however, I was devastated to learn that I may never drive again due to losing neck mobility. I am a car enthusiast and driving is a passion of mine.”

Five months after the accident, Normand was not only able to return to the driver’s seat, but he returned to work as a designer—in addition to filling the new role as the company’s safety officer— before moving to Ottawa to obtain his Master’s degree in Architecture at Carleton University.

“Dr. Goytan took time to get to know me; we bonded over architecture. I am forever grateful for his compassion and expertise, and for the compassion and expertise of the HSC staff,” says Normand.

To help patients like Scott Normand on their road to recovery, please support the Patricia Nord Complex Spinal Surgery Fund. The fund was established by Patricia Nord—former HSC ER nurse and patient of Dr. Goytan—in 2013 to support equipment purchases, research, education, and training related to patient care for the Complex Spine program at HSC. To contribute, please call the HSC Foundation at 204-515- 5612 or toll-free at 1-800-679-8493.

To learn about other HSC Foundation giving options, please click here.