Back in 1962, TIRR Memorial Hermann established its Spinal Cord Injury Program and was designated a national Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) for Rehabilitation Medicine by the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration of the U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
That same year, Robert Vaughn was in an automobile accident. His car flipped and the result was a spinal cord injury. “I was 19-years-old and paralyzed from the neck down,” says Robert. “I spent a month in an acute care hospital before transitioning to TIRR Memorial Hermann to become a part of the Spinal Cord Injury Program. They were just transitioning from being primarily a polio treatment center to caring for individuals with spinal cord injuries, and I was one of the first patients.”
Robert spent a total of nine months at TIRR Memorial Hermann and had physical and occupational therapy every day. At one point, he had to have a cyst removed from the site where he had an initial surgery, and once that was removed he had movement in his arms and hands.
“Everyone there was nice – from the physicians to the volunteers,” says Robert. “One morning, I decided I was going to dress myself rather than waiting for one of the staff members to help me. My physician was surprised when he came to my room and saw that I was already dressed. He told me that I would be getting myself dressed from that day forward!”
Once Robert was discharged from inpatient care, he went back home. At that time, outpatient therapy wasn’t an option, so he learned to do a lot of things for himself.
I figured out how to transfer, get into the car and I even made myself a shower bench,” he said. “I was very fortunate that I had my family to help me. Patients are so lucky now that they have additional education and continuing outpatient opportunities.”
Occasionally, Robert visited the Outpatient Medical Clinic if he had a need, and he continues to do so, to this day.
In addition, TIRR Memorial Hermann provided Robert with an opportunity for education, and he later returned to there as an employee.
“TIRR Memorial Hermann had a program called the Computer Headquarters for Educational and Statistical Services and I was one of the first individuals to participate,” said Robert.
Prior to his accident, he was taking college courses while working. TIRR Memorial Hermann taught Robert how to program computers and once he completed his program, he worked as a computer programmer in the hospital’s vocational unit for six years.
“I loved that job – the people all knew me and I knew them,” said Robert. “But at the same time I was also pastoring a church. I felt I was called to work at the church full time and reluctantly gave up my job at TIRR Memorial Hermann.”
In 1978, at age 34, Robert founded a new Christian radio station. The station has now been on the air for more than 40 years with Robert at the helm and on the air. “We have a total of five employees now,” says Robert. “We also bought a second station in Sealy, Texas, a few years ago, so we simulcast to that station as well.”
Robert and his wife, Sharon, have been married for 42 years and have raised nine kids.
“I have the biggest family with so many grandkids and great-grandkids!” says Robert. “I’m 80 years old now and my life has been wonderful.”
For the 33rd consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 2 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.Learn More
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