Patient Profile – Nick Malloy
Healing Power of Music: Rising country music singer-songwriter Nick Malloy battles through spinal cord injury rehabilitation to return to the stage.
Written By David Simpson
Photography By Louie Favorite and Brian Tipton
Nick Malloy needed his left arm to work again. He needed the muscles strong and delicately toned. He needed to play chords like B minor. “That’s a pretty tough one – where you’ve got to lay your first finger on all the strings, pressing down on the frets,” says Nick, a former patient from Macon, Ga. “You have to use a lot of power in your hand.”
Nick fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his car on his 23rd birthday – March 28, 2012. He sustained an incomplete T-8 spinal cord injury, multiple fractures and wounds to his left arm and hand. The resulting paralysis in his legs seemed a secondary issue to him when he arrived at Shepherd Center on April 18. For a country music singer-songwriter who used a guitar like an extension of his body, the severe tissue damage to his arm represented a crisis.
When he was 12, Nick picked up a guitar at a friend’s house. His parents gave him one of his own at Christmas. At 13, he saw his friend’s band perform in Macon. That clinched it. “I started playing bars at 15,” he recalls.
Nick had a full calendar of bookings through summer 2012. Working in country music means long hours on the road. He was coming off trips to Alabama and Atlanta and operating on two hours’ sleep when he played a show in Macon the night of his crash.
On the way home, fatigue got the better of him. He doesn’t remember his car hitting the tree, the six hours pinned inside until he was discovered or his first weeks of surgery and intensive care at the Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG). For rehabilitation, MCCG referred Nick to Shepherd Center, where Lisa Gerdes, RN, was his admitting nurse.