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After a year of rehabilitation, Josh is back at college and working hard to conquer the court once again.

Special Tree client Josh E. knows hard work. As a student at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), he puts in long study hours as an Occupational Therapy student. But Josh’s work ethic is deeper than that. With a passion for basketball, Josh made the Cardinals as a walk-on, started five games, and was awarded an athletic scholarship his sophomore year. Josh’s future looked bright, but his life took an unexpected turn when he sustained a TBI in a serious car accident in the fall of 2010, leaving his life forever changed and his future uncertain.


After his discharge from the hospital, Josh came to Special Tree in Midland for outpatient therapy and to live in a semi-independent apartment. Josh’s circumstances had changed, but not his steadfast determination to achieve his goals; return to SVSU as a student athlete and ultimately become an OT. “I’m not afraid of a little sweat,” he said. Josh’s therapy team incorporated his goals into a treatment plan to get him back to school and on-the-court ready. PT built up Josh’s endurance to competitive levels with long hours on the treadmill and running cones, while OT addressed Josh’s vision and fine motor challenges. To get Josh ready for school, Mike Dodman, Speech Language Pathologist, worked with him on organizational and compensatory strategies and found high-tech adaptive devices, such as the Livescribe pen to help with note taking and compression in class.

Josh now lives in an apartment with college friends and has returned to SVSU as a full-time student, driving himself to and from class. Still using the strategies he learned with the clinical team, Josh is a successful student. With his physical endurance increasing, Josh now works with a physical/sports trainer to focus on returning to basketball shape and continues outpatient therapy at Special Tree.

Moving forward, it’s easy to wonder how Josh will use his experience to help his own clients when he becomes an OT. “I’ll be a better OT because I’ve seen the other side,” he said. “I know that kind of pain first-hand — both physically and emotionally.”