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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Opens Trauma Center

March 21, 2007

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Wounded in Iraq by an improvised explosive device, Army CPL Robert Engelbrecht undergoes a kinesiotherapy session with Laura Lawhon, RKT, MEDVAMC kinesiotherapist.

06:03 PM CDT on Wednesday, March 21, 2007
By Janice Williamson / KHOU-TV Ch. 11 (CBS)

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Corporal Robert Engelbrecht is learning to walk again.

The 23-year-old Iraqi War veteran lost his left leg and the use of his right arm.

He’s also blind in one eye and has a brain injury. “Because I’ve got half a leg it means the leg I have now has to overcome everything else to make it work correctly. So it’s a lot of work.”

Eight months ago the Magnolia native says he was driving a Humvee south of Baghdad when it was hit by a homemade bomb. “Once we hit the creek the water was up to my chest level and I thought it was still coming in so I was like get me out of here.”

American troops are now surviving injuries that would have meant certain death a decade ago.

The Veteran’s Administration has developed the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Program to help the growing number of veterans who are returning with not one but several major injuries.

“We want them to basically go back into the community and be independent and live on their own,” said Dr. Stephanie Sneed with the DeBakey VA Hospital.

That requires a team approach to treat physical and mental challenges.

The goal of the Polytrauma Program is to provide world class care close to home so that returning troops can heal with the help of family and friends.

Robert Engelbrecht spent months in a California hospital before being moved to Houston. “I can go home every weekend and that’s just great.”

It’ more motivation to keep moving down the slow road to recovery.