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Alabama Teacher Returns to Work Following Rehabilitation for Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries

Charles Miller, 27, of Oxford, Ala., returned to the classroom in January 2014, once more teaching science to seventh graders at Oxford Middle School. It’s a dream that didn’t appear likely when Charles crashed his motorcycle on July 6, 2012.

He spent five weeks on life support with an incomplete T-6 spinal cord injury, broken bones and internal injuries, such as punctured lungs. Eventually, Charles began breathing on his own again. One of his student’s parents knew about Shepherd Center and helped get Charles admitted at the hospital for rehabilitation.

“I could talk forever about the people who worked with me at Shepherd Center,” Charles said. “They didn’t just heal my body; they got my mind right. It really is total rehabilitation. They keep you motivated, but they also make you feel comfortable being there. It’s like the people who work there aren’t at work! They laugh and joke. It’s like being at their home.”

Along with his wife Shametra, Charles’ students have also kept him driven, he said. Charles decorated his room at Shepherd Center with the hundreds of cards he received from students at his school. “Even last Christmas, I decorated my tree with lots of those cards,” Charles recalled. “In hard times, I still go back and read those. I’m telling you, the love of a child is unconditional.”

Now, he’s back for his fifth year of teaching, sharing the wonders of science with a new class of students. “As crazy as it sounds, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world,” he said. “It taught me what’s important. It’s brought me closer to my family, and this community has just shone through the rough times. It’s been life-changing in far different ways than I first anticipated.”

Written by Phillip Jordan
Photos Courtesy of Charles Miller

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.