One Mistake Changed Tom Ufert’s Whole World

After an MS diagnosis, Tom Ufert underwent a serious spinal cord injury.

After an MS diagnosis, Tom Ufert underwent a serious spinal cord injury.

Editor’s Note: 46 year old Tom Ufert of Haltom City, Texas was on his way toward a political career and had everything in the world going for him. In baseball, if you make three strikes, you’re out. But in life there is no set amount of tragedy you can have in your life and still be successful. Ufert has written the soon to be published book, “Adversity Builds Character – A Second Chance,” in which he describes three major disabilities that he’s had to deal with in the last 20 years. Part 2 of a 5 part series.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person,” Ufert remembers. “I had been out carousing, and one of my acquaintances I regularly played pool with at a local night club offered to give me a ride home in what he said was his sports car. However, the car we got into wasn’t his car, and he didn’t have permission to be driving it. Actually, the owner had defaulted on the car loan, and the car was to be repossessed. We basically went joyriding. I knew that we were going way too fast, and when the car brushed against the railing on the side of the road, I realized something bad was about to happen.” The joyride came to an abrupt end, when the driver lost control of the car, going up a high rise ramp in downtown Dallas. The car flipped over twice, and the driver was thrown from the vehicle, only sustaining a minor fracture and a wrist fracture. But, Ufert remained in the car, because he’d been strapped in with a seatbelt. However, the seatbelt broke, and when the car flipped in the air, Ufert was thrown over to the driver’s side of the car. The vehicle was so smashed up, that the first responders had to use the Jaws of Life to open up the crashed car and remove Ufert.

After the 5 days in ICU, Ufert finally woke up. He had metal tongs attached to his head, to keep his head from moving. The doctors had attached a 27 pound titanium metal halo to his head, by screwing bolts into his head, to prevent his neck from moving. He wore the halo brace for the next 3 months, because he had an incomplete fracture of his spine at C5 and C6. “The doctors told me, that apparently my head had bounced against the roof of the car when it crashed, and that action compressed my vertebrae,” Ufert explains. “I was barely conscious when I was removed from the car, and I barely remember the police officer asking me questions. I vaguely remember them using the Jaws of Life to get me out the vehicle. Then there’s a gap in my memory, but I do remember being rolled into the emergency room on a stretcher. Luckily, I had to have no surgery on my neck. The metal halo and the tongs that the doctors attached to my head enabled the fracture to heal naturally. But, a swelling in my spine caused me to lose the fine motor skills in my hands. Today I can move three fingers on my right hand and two fingers on my left hand. However, I’m blessed. I have full bowel and bladder control, although I can’t walk. The doctors have said because of my spinal cord injury and my already having multiple sclerosis, determining which problem caused my paralysis was very difficult.”

Always think before you make a bad decision!

Tom was always goofing off with friends in high school!


Ufert was transferred to Plano Rehabilitation Hospital in Plano, Texas a northern suburb in Dallas. He was a patient there for 4 and a half months and did outpatient therapy for 2 and a half years. As Ufert explains, “I have foot drop, and I can’t pick up my feet. So, I’ve been in a wheelchair for the last 20 years. However, when I went into the rehab hospital, the only extremity that I could move was my right forearm.”

To learn more, visit

Tomorrow: Tom Ufert Is Inspired By His Late Mother

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

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