Ohio University Chillicothe student Bruce “Adam” Hammond
Photographer: Jack Jeffery
Jun 11, 2010
Ohio University Chillicothe student Bruce “Adam” Hammond has a new lease on life and a perspective to match his situation.
Hammond, a former member of the Army’s elite Golden Knights parachuting team, nearly lost his life in a skydiving accident near Xenia, Ohio in September 2006 that broke his back, femur and hip, as well as tore his aorta and femoral arteries. At the time of the accident, Hammond was training to fly Blackhawk helicopters.
“My doctors said that, by all reasoning, I should have died. Usually, with the aorta being torn, a person bleeds to death in two minutes,” Hammond said.
A parachute malfunction caused Hammond to hit the ground at 45 miles per hour on that fateful day.
“I said a prayer, told everyone around me where it hurt, passed out and awakened from a coma six weeks later,” he said.
Upon awakening from the coma, Hammond immediately asked for a Coke. It has been a long road to recovery with 18 surgical procedures, including open-heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. It took 18 months before he could walk at all, and his weight plummeted from 210 pounds to 140 pounds during the recuperation.
“I had to learn to do everything over again. It hurt to just roll over,” he said.
After leaving the hospital, Hammond’s days consisted of crawling from his bed to the couch to spend the day. His injuries caused him to be in agonizing pain most of the time, pain that made it difficult to function.
Instead of bowing in the face of physical circumstance, Hammond has shown the perseverance to fight through his injuries and has become a medical pioneer. During surgery in Charleston, W.Va., on Aug. 5, 2008, he became the first person in the world to be fitted with an Eon Mini Neurostimulator, a tiny spinal cord simulator that sends electrical impulses to the brain, substituting constant debilitating pain with a more bearable tingling sensation.
While his life is far from pain-free, because of the device, his optimistic attitude and tenacity, Hammond has been able to gain much of his mobility and return to his daily routine. He is now able to do things the physicians thought would be impossible after his accident, such as sit in a chair, walk, travel and even return to skydiving.
“Just going back to school was a big goal for me,” said Hammond, who returned to OU-C during winter quarter 2009 to pursue his bachelor’s degree.
He has since testified at Congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., regarding the ability of patients to bring lawsuits against the makers of medical devices such as the one easing Hammond’s pain.
“With everything that has occurred, I try to make the best of everything and every opportunity,” he said. I had never taken things granted before, but I know realize how precious life is and try to live every day to its fullest. I try to be positive and be the best person I can be.”
Hammond, a Zane Trace High School graduate earned an associate degree in Law Enforcement Technology from OU-C in 2004, and he will graduate this weekend with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and future plans to attend law school. He and his wife, Maranda, are expecting their first child this spring.
“The device takes away 90 percent of the pain. Without the device, the pain is so overwhelming, I would just want to lie in the fetal position,” he explained. “The device gave me my life back and allowed me to again be a productive member of society.”