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Back in the saddle

Tuttle woman recovers from bone-crushing accident
Jennifer Livingston recovers from bone-crushing accident with help from Medcenter One.
Thanks to the innovative emergency, surgery and rehabilitation services at Sanford Health, Jennifer Livingston was able to overcome life-threatening injuries that resulted from a
farming accident.
  What began as routine morning chores for Jennifer Livingston evolved into a harrowing experience that placed the way of life she had always loved in jeopardy.

Livingston and her husband, Jesse, farm and ranch north of Tuttle. They were feeding cattle the morning of Nov. 25, 2007, before going to church.

Livingston, then 22, had her back to her husband, working with a new cattle puppy, as he brought a hay bale through the gate with a pay loader. “I thought he was going to keep going straight back from the gate, but instead he came toward me without my realizing it,” she said. “The back end of the loader bumped me, and I fell forward. I wasn’t able to move away quickly enough.”

The 32,000-pound pay loader ran over her left ankle and her pelvis. “I heard my bones breaking,” she said. “I was conscious the entire time, praying Jesse would see me so he wouldn’t drive over me again.”

He did see her and called 911. About 45 minutes later, the Goodrich ambulance arrived and was soon enroute to meet the ambulance from Bismarck to take her to Sanford Health at her husband’s request.

“I didn’t know if I would live,” she said. “If I did survive, I was afraid I would be paralyzed and never be able to ride my horses or work cattle again.”

Dr. Kimber Boyko, a board-certified general and trauma
surgeon at Sanford Health, was one of the doctors who responded to Livingston’s life-threatening injuries when she arrived at the Sanford Emergency & Trauma Center.

“Jennifer’s pelvis was fractured in several places, and she had pain in her leg and ankle,” he said. “Her extensive injuries required the capabilities of a Level II Trauma Center.”

Sanford Health is designated by the state of North Dakota and verified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) as a Level II Trauma Center, the highest designation in North Dakota.

“Being a Level II Trauma Center means an organization meets rigorous criteria set forth by the ACS,” Dr. Boyko said. “The designation assures the community our team of doctors and other healthcare providers are quickly available with the resources necessary to care for severely injured patients.”

The trauma team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide emergency services, surgery and care for life-threatening injuries and illnesses. The team is supported by surgical specialists from a variety of areas including trauma, general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, radiology and critical care.
  Dr. Kimber Boyko
Boyko, MD

General surgery

Livingston underwent a CT scan to evaluate her injuries and provide a three-dimensional view to assist the orthopedic surgeon. She then endured two surgeries to repair her pelvis in the week and a half following her injury.

Three days after her second surgery, she walked three steps using crutches. “It was so exciting,” she said.“We got my first steps on camera.”

She spent the last five days of her stay in the Sanford Health inpatient rehabilitation unit where she had daily occupational therapy and physical therapy.

“The first day on rehab, an occupational therapist taught me how to use a tool to put on my socks because I couldn’t bend over,” she said. “Physical therapists focused on strengthening my arms and legs and teaching me to use crutches.”

Twenty days after the accident, she was discharged. Initially, she moved around her home using a wheelchair or crutches. Three months after the accident, she was able to walk without crutches. By the time calving season started mid-March, she was driving a four-wheeler around the farm. Fourteen months after that fateful day, she was back in the saddle.

Click here for more information on Sanford Emergency & Trauma Center and its life-saving technology.


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