A Trauma Survivor’s Story

Published: Monday, July 25, 2022

It was May 8, 2021 when Robb Sinn, Mathematics Professor at UNG, decided to take his new mountain bike for a ride along Woody Gap trail in Dahlonega, Georgia. He rode up to the top of the mountain but took a major tumble along the way down. 

Lumpkin County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrived on the scene and found Mr. Sinn to be combative and agitated.  They immediately suspected a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).  In order to get Mr. Sinn to the closest trauma center, Lumpkin EMS activated Airlife for rapid transport to Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Gainesville.

“The crazy thing is, I still don’t remember what happened. They told me I was lying beside my bike and the front tire was busted. The police told my wife that there had been no car collision and that someone driving by had called in to report the accident.”

“When the policeman showed up at my door and told me what had happened, I must have been in shock – I didn’t want to believe that my husband’s life could be in danger.” said his wife, Valerie.

Mr. Sinn arrived at the Emergency Department (ED) at NGMC Gainesville as the highest-level trauma activation, and an entire team of healthcare professionals, led by the Trauma Surgeon, were present and ready to assist. As soon as he was admitted, Robb was taken to the Operating Room (OR) for his severe head bleed.

Robb was noted to have “bifrontal contusions”, a brain injury as the result of a sudden change in head movement, as well as a right temporal epidural/subdural hematoma and associated skull fracture. Robb was also noted to have two broken bones in his right arm.

After leaving the OR, Mr. Sinn was admitted to the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU).

“When I first walked in, it was clear that they were watching for me,” said Valerie. “I was able to see Robb before his surgery, and the staff were so extremely kind and attentive to me both during his surgery and throughout his recovery. They always kept me informed on his progress.”

 Over the course of his 6-week hospitalization, Robb underwent several other procedures and operations. Although he remained on a ventilator over the course of his hospitalization, his neurologic status began to slowly improve.

“I’m a mathematician and I know that coin flips don’t always come out the way you might want them to – It’s entirely possible I could have lost my life that day,” said Robb. “I may not remember anything, but I know the team at NGMC knew exactly what to do. They saved my life at least 3 or 4 times!”

In June, the care team made a referral to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for Robb’s severe traumatic  brain injury (TBI). Robb was fortunate to be accepted and he transferred to the Shepherd Center. He was sent home on August 7 after gaining full mobility.

Robb Sinn & Family

“I am still currently in physical therapy for my shoulders and wrist after being in a hospital bed for the past few months. Thankfully, my job has been very flexible and allowed me to come back to work part-time.”

Robb is now back to doing what he loves most – teaching – and he hopes to return full-time in the near future.

“Sometimes you don’t need a professional to be your friend, you need them to fix the problem,” said Valerie. “The trauma team at NGMC went above and beyond and did both for my husband, which is why I will always have a special place in my heart for them.”