Brain Injury: Patient Stories
A Second Chance at Life
When 16-year-old Scott Chan was wheeled through the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s (RIC) doors on a stretcher in March 2007, he was unable to move, eat or speak on his own.
Chan experienced a hemorrhage of an arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal collection of blood vessels in the brain, that resulted in a brain injury and a subsequent stroke.
“You need to call your priest and family members because it doesn’t look like he's going to make it,” emergency room doctors told his mother.
Omar Al-Dhafiri's Story
Finding the Way Back with a Trip to Chicago
Omar Al-Dhafiri and his father traveled from Kuwait for Omar's care after he sustained a traumatic brain injury
Omar Al-Dhafiri, 21, a citizen of Kuwait, was on his way home from getting the results of his final term in August 2006, when he was in a car accident that threw him more than 20 feet from the car.
Omar, who was studying for a degree in chemical engineering, was badly injured. The impact of the car ejected his body from the vehicle, and he skidded along the 115-degree pavement causing bad burns along his back. He was unconscious and extremely cut up on his face and body.
By coincidence, a family friend, who was also an emergency medical technician, was on that same road and helped clean up his face and applied first aid. Though he had known Omar for years, he didn’t recognize the young college student because of the severity of the injuries to his head and body.
Andrew Heytow's Story
In August 2005, Andrew Heytow was in the prime of his life, working as an executive at a major Chicago bank while also taking the time to referee his son’s youth soccer league. He also nurtured his love of flying with helicopter lessons, even purchasing a flight simulator for his home so that he could practice. After taking several lessons and logging many hours of training, Heytow was two weeks shy of taking his final test when his helicopter went down in a crash after a mechanical failure.
The crash caused serious, extensive injuries, including several broken bones in his back, ribs and foot, along with internal bleeding in his stomach, spleen, appendix and lungs. He also was left with a traumatic brain injury.
Eight days after his accident, Andrew’s condition was finally stabilized and he was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) to embark on his rehabilitation journey.
Eric Edmundson's Story
A light at the end of a tunnel
Sgt. Eric Edmundson greets his wife and daughter after walking out of RIC with the help of his therapists.
Ed Edmundson pushed his son, U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Edmundson, then 26, onto the elevator at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) to return to the brain injury floor for his next therapy session. Before their floor, the elevator stopped and a woman entered. Eric coyly moved his thumb toward the screen of his new Dynavox communication device attached to his wheelchair and pressed one of the buttons. The Dynavox said, “Hello. How are you?” while Eric looked at the woman with his signature smirk. “I’m fine, thank you. How are you?” the woman replied.
Jeremiah King's Story
Age 8, Mahomet, IL
Jeremiah was out with his family in training for a Charity 5K run when a car hit him as he crossed the street and he sustained a traumatic brain injury. After several weeks in a Champaign, IL hospital he was brought to Chicago and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
When he arrived at RIC he was unable to walk, talk, or even sit up on his own.
Age 5, Chicago, IL
Jaime Correa was an average 5-year-old boy who loved to play with his friends and ride his bike. He was always a happy kid and kept very busy. Jaime's family wondered if they would ever again see the boy they grew to know and love after he was involved in a tragic car accident. The accident caused a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and multiple other injuries requiring him to undergo a craniotomy to fix the bleeds in his brain and relieve the pressure.
“He couldn’t do anything,” said Jaime's mother. “He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t eat or breathe on his own. He was like a newborn and had to learn everything again.”
Masha Melnikov's Story
Age 14, St. Petersburg, Russia
Masha was in St. Petersburg, Russia, visiting her grandmother and enjoying one of her favorite hobbies – horseback riding. She was in the process of stalling her horse back in the stable when she was kicked in the head and sustained a severe skull fracture and traumatic brain injury.
Her father, a UN diplomat, searched the globe for the best hospital to care for his daughter. Following a comprehensive search and consultations, the choice was unanimous – RIC.