Brain Injury: “Jeff”

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In September of 1982 my 20 year old son, Jeff, was in an auto accident sustaining a closed head injury resulting in massive brain damage. He was in such a state that about all you could say for him was that he was alive. He had a trach for oxygen, an N.G. tube for feeding and someone had to turn him if he was moved. His eyes were open but with just a vacant star totally unaware and without a hint of recognition. The doctors all said that due to the severity of the damage to his brain that they were sure this is the way he would always be.

An acquaintance at the hospital invited me to a Head Injury Alliance meeting, to which I went, reluctantly, and there was Joan Burns, as a guest speaker, telling about NACD! It was very exciting to hear about others with the same or similar problems and about the things they were learning to do.

After 5 months in the hospital, with little or no progress, Jeff was placed in a nursing home. Now the stimulation here consisted of about 2 minutes of touching and talking every 2 hours while being turned. And maybe the nurse would talk to him while feeding him once every 4 hours.

Then I attended a local meeting of NACD parents and told of my plight. Joan Burns and her daughters, Mary and Sue, volunteered to work with Jeff. I recruited some friends and neighbors and in April we started with a daily 2 hour program consisting of tactile, sounds and smells.

In a few weeks the empty look was gone from his face and though he couldn’t tell me or respond to me I knew that he knew I was there. In September of 1983, on the very day of Bob Doman’s first seminar in Michigan, his trach was removed and he began to eat. In November I brought him home, and continued the things we had been doing.

In March of 1984 when our very own branch of NACD opened here, we were there getting an evaluation and our own program. He has improved to the point where he is eating ground food instead of pureed or baby food. He is moving a lot, holding up his head and beginning to see.

I had hoped for more progress, but we only have volunteers once a day and his program should be done four times. Even though he doesn’t get his program 100% and his progress is slow, at least there is progress.

Thanks to NACD, Dr. Bob, Bob Jr., all the fantastic people in the organization and the volunteers who help us each day, all is not lost and there is hope for a future after all.

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 10 No. 9, 1996 ©NACD