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An accidental traumatic brain injury after being “choked out” during training by a MMA fighter was my lemon. Left in a coma, I lost the ability to do nearly all basic functions. Helping other TBI sufferers who may not have the financial means to fully recover through my new foundation is my lemonade.
In 2011, I was living my life as a successful businessman, loving father and devoted husband. I had just turned 40, and decided it was time to get in the best shape of my life. I began intensive physical training, but soon thereafter found myself engaged in the fight of my life.
On November 25, 2011 while visiting friends and family for the Thanksgiving holiday, my Carotid Artery suddenly burst. I suffered a massive stroke, and my brain began to swell, so much so that it began to expand out of the back of my head. Doctors had to perform a craniectomy, or remove a part of my skull, to stop the swelling. When I woke up my vision, hearing and speech, were completely altered. Nothing worked, and my memory was gone. I couldn’t use a phone, or write, or read, or tell time. I couldn’t recognize the faces of my family.
My brain had been short-circuited and it needed to be re-booted.
The first step in this process was to find a way to reprogram my brain, and a team of physical, occupational, and speech therapists did just that. From there I went to a rehabilitation center to re-learn how to live my life. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a 14 week “boot camp” to learn how to eat, shave, shower, and walk. I had to get back to Active Daily Living (ADL). It was now time to re-boot my life.
After 14 weeks I returned home to begin Home Health Rehabilitation. Therapist came to my house to rehabilitate me there. I had to learn how to walk up the stairs, take a shower, and get into bed. I had to learn everything all over again.
Once I completed this program the next step was to move into a community re-entry program where I was taught how to find my way back into society. I was taught how to navigate a store, how to use cash, how to use a credit card, etc. I had to learn how to use a computer, and a tablet, and my iPhone, and understand the web and what it was for.
It’s been a difficult road to navigate, but my story does not stop there. With the help of great doctors and therapists I continue to heal and make progress, and I am fortunate enough to still regularly attend multiple rehabilitation programs.
Without them, I know that my life would be at a stand still.
I also know that for some with a Traumatic Brain Injury, life is…standing still.
During my time in rehabilitation I began to notice that a lot of people were leaving the programs before they were ready. I saw war veterans, athletes, and other patients needed the extra hours and time to rehabilitate their bodies and their minds, but many also lacked funds to do so, or their insurance simply ran out.
The fact remains that if a person with a TBI does not have good health insurance or allocated funds they may never reach their full potential again.
I spent hundreds of hours learning how to walk again, and I know that if those hours had been cut in half I wouldn’t be walking today. I know that there are people who can’t walk right now because of their TBI. I also know that without the proper therapies they will be left in their wheelchairs with very little hope of a promising future.
It’s that simple.
I founded Move 2 Improve because I want to help people affected by TBI find and utilize physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychotherapy throughout their recovery process. Move 2 Improve will help people learn how to adjust to life in general, get back into normal society, and get back to working again.
I’m not a miracle. I’m not lucky. I’m a product of hard work and really great rehabilitation, great therapists, and great caregivers. The team of people that came to my aid; the therapists, are the reason why I can stand here today.
The neurosurgeon saved my life, but the therapists got me back to living a normal life. Now, I am helping others to have access to those life-altering therapies as well.
For more info: http://move2improvefoundation.com