Post Coma, Two Brain Injury Victims Succeed With Their Recoveries


Posted on 5th October 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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I’ve dedicated my life to being an advocate for brain injury victims, and it’s been a rewarding calling. And it also has its challenges.

While medicine has made strides in the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury patients, brain injury is not like breaking a bone. Making a full recovery, to return to your prior level of function, is not easy and is not often typical. The refrain I and my associates hear from TBI victims is often the same: “I want my life back.”

Unfortunately, no one can give them their lives back. But in some cases, they can grab back their lives themselves. 

It’s always heartening when I get a case where a TBI victim make a remarkable recovery, and when I hear about other upbeat stories, I like to share them. And here are two.

The first case is that of Bryan Steinhauer, who sustained severe brain injuries when he was beat up near Binghamton University in 2008. The New York Daily News did a profile of Steinhauer Sunday, which was headlined “How He Beat The Serb Monster: Survives Coma & Heads For Dream Job.”

Steinhauer two years ago was assaulted by three men, including Miladin Kovacevic, for dancing with one of their girlfriends. “Doctors didn’t know if he would be able to speak again, let alone if he would live,” according to the News.

Steinhauer was in a coma for three months, and has “undergone thousands of hours of speech and physical therapy,”  the News reported. It paid off, because Steinhauer is about to start work at KPMG, the accounting firm. Kovacevic, in turn, is about to start a prison sentence for assault.

Steinhauer’s mentor at the Greater New York Hospital Association, Lee Perlman, had this to say about the 24-year-old TBI survivor’s recovery.

“It’s mind-boggling,” Perlman told the News. “It is arguably one if the most inspiring, resilient shows of force that I could ever imagine.”

Steinhauer, who walks with a limp and talks slowly since his assault, goes to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan once a month to speak with brain trauma patients and offer them encouragement. 

The second inspiring case is that of Jenna Philips, a Carmel, Calif., teen who fell 14 feet through a barn ceiling and landed on her head, knocked unconscious. She came out of her coma a day later, according to AOL, and had two brain contusions and a rightside skull fracture.

Against the advice of her doctors, Jenna returned to high school three weeks after her fall. In addition to her regular lessons, she was also undergoing cognitive therapy for her brain injury.

In “How I Recovered From Brain Damage,” Jenna is very articulate, and does a good job describing the successes, and failures, of her recovery. It was not easy.

But Jenna did go on to college, majoring in nutrition, and now has her own business, Mission Possible, an outdoor fitness program.

“I learned how to listen to my body, and understand what it needs,” Jenna told AOL. “I also learned how to persevere, and that with perseverance, anything is possible.”


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