Illinois Man Thinks It’s A Joke When He Learns He Shot A Nail Into His Brain


Posted on 22nd January 2012 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to the brain. Take the case of Dante Autullo.

Autullo was using a nail gun to put together a shed in his hometown of Orland Park, Ill., Tuesday. According to the Associated Press, he had the nail gun above his head and fired it. He thought he felt a nail fly past his ear, and in fact his common-law-wife, Gail Glaenzer, cleaned a cut on his head afterward.

But the next day Autullo, 32, felt nauseous, and went to the hospital. Imagine his surprise when doctors showed him an X-ray of his skull, which showed a 3 1/4 nail in the middle of his brain.

AP reported that at first Autullo thought the doctors were trying to pull one over on him.

“When they brought in the picture, I said to the doctor, ‘Is this a joke? Did you get that out of the doctors’ joke file?” Autullo said, according to AP.

But it was no joke. The nail was there.

Autello remained remarkably cool even after he learned that he had a nail in his head. As an ambulance took him to a second hospital for surgery, he posted his mind-blowing X-ray on Facebook, AP reported.

Autello was apparently lucky in terms of where the nail ended up in his brain, barely missing the area that controls motor function, according to AP.

Surgeons removed the nail and Autello was doing well. As one neurosurgeon explained, being shot in the head with a nail is a lot different than being shot in the head with a bullet. The nail is thin, so does minimal damage, and doesn’t explode into pieces like a bullet.

AP’s report said that surgeons removed the nail by putting a hole in Autello’s skull near each end of the nail, and then fished out the nail. Part of the skull came out, too, and that was replaced with titanium mesh, the wire service said.

I’d suggest that Autello lay off the do-it-yourself home projects for awhile.   


San Francisco Giants Fan Sustains Brain Damage After Beating By Dodgers Boosters


Posted on 9th April 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Modern sports tap into our tribal instincts. When your hometown team wins, your clan has won, has survived. Sports access deep, primitive, powerful emotions.

But that is no excuse to beat up a fan of a rival team.

Yet that is exacty what happened March 31 in a horrendous incident at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. During the season opener between the Dodgers and their archrivals, the San Francisco Giants, a Giants  fan dressed in that team’s “regalia” was attacked by two animalistic Dodgers’ fans.

The victim, 42-year-old Bryan Stow of Santa Cruz, Calif., sustained serious brain damage and was put in a medically induced coma by doctors. Published reports said doctors had performed surgery to remove part of Stow’s skull to relieve the pressure on his brain, which had swollen from his injuries.

The two sports savages that attacked Stow, a father of two, escaped. Authorities are offering a $100,000 award for any information about the attackers.

Let’s hope these two cowards, who reportedly attacked Stow from behind, are identified, apprehended, charged and convicted. 

And while they are in prison, we hope they are surrounded by Giants fans.   

Minnesota Twins Morneau Describes His Comeback From The ‘Fog’ Of Concussion


Posted on 19th March 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau offers a marvelously articulate, and heartbreaking, account of the tough road back from a major concussion in an interview with

The story is great because it captures the nuances of what Morneau, and thereby others who have suffered concussions, must endure. It’s been eight months since Morneau was hit in the head by Blue Jays player John McDonald’s knee, and he is making progress but is still on the mend.

In the story that was posted online Friday Morneau, who is obviously a bright guy, talks about the frustration of waiting for his brain to slowly heal. He admits to being an impatient person. So it’s hard for him to deal with the fact that a brain injury doesn’t have a timetable for healing the way a torn liagment or a broken bone does.

Morneau is also wise, as is the Twins management, in that he is not pushing himself too hard. He knows that could ulitimately hinder his recovery from his concussion.

He vents a bit about the fact that the most run-of-the-mill activities — watching TV, going to a movie — all stimulate your brain. And as Morneau says, “When your brain is working, it is not healing.”

Morneau made two other cogent points. He noted that the “culture of sports” is one of “gritting it out” and playing with an injury, which is not an option with a concussion.

And then Morneau talked about how he saw the world, as if in a “fog,” the first few months after he sustained his concussion.

“If you’re going 65 miles an hour down the road and you look out your side window, everything looks like it’s just going by so fast that you can’t really focus on it,” he told “Then you look out the front window and you see everything clear.”

Morneau is at spring training in Florida, and he is playing ball. But he would be the first one to admit that he doesn’t know what the future will hold for him this season. I wish him well.   


‘American Idol’ Contestant Moves Judges With Story Of His Brain-Damaged Fiancee

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Posted on 28th January 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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The American public in the past month has learned a lot about traumatic brain injury from press coverage of the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  And they got more insight into the heartbreak of TBI this week from, of all unlikely places, “American Idol.”

In Milwaukee, “Idol” contestant Chris Medina drew tears, and made headlines, because of his unshaken love for his fiancee Juliana Ramos. The audience was shown photos of Medina proposing to Juliana, a stunningly beautiful young woman with huge brown eyes. He popped the question in the Starbucks where she worked.,,20461214,00.html

But Medina  told “Idol” judges Jennifer Lopez, Steve Tyler and Randy Jackson that two months before his wedding date, Juliana was in a car accident. She sustained serious brain damage, and was in a coma for a month and a half.

“Everything changed,” Medina said, a phrase that many a TBI survivor, or their family, has said.

Medina has not abandoned his fiancee, who is wheelchair bound now.

“I was about to make vows just two months from the accident — through thick and thin, ’til death do us part, for better or worse,” Medina said. “What  kid of guy would I be if I walked out when she needed me the most?”

For his audition Medina covered The Script’s hit “Breakeven,” and made it to the next round of the “Idol” competition in Hollywood.

Juliana was waiting outside the room when Medina was auditioning, and the judges asked to meet her. She is partially paralyzed, and looks like a shadow of the person in the photographs before her accident.  But the “Idol” judges warmly greeted her, with Tyler giving her a hug.

“I just heard your fiance sing,” Tyler told her. “He sings to you all the time. I could tell. That’s why he sings so good, because he sings to you.”

When Medina and Juliana left the audition room, she whispered something into his ear. Medina turned and said to the camera, “She said, ‘I knew it.'”

Some “Idol” fans and TV blogs are complaining that the show was exploiting Juliana by putting her on the air. But she is the face of TBI, and America should see it. Juliana should be “The American Idol.”

New Jersey Youth Sustains Brain Injury From Fall At Rutgers Game


Posted on 15th November 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Stunts that just seem to be playful can often turn dangerous, as a 20-year-old New Jersey man found out Saturday. 

Nicholas Amabile of Florham Park. N.J., remained in critical condition Sunday from head injuries he sustained when he fell down a flight of stairs at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, according to The Star-Ledge of Newark Monday.  

Amabile isn’t a Rutgers student, but he attended the Scarlet Knight’s game against Syracuse University on Saturday. According to Amabile’s friend and witness, Anthony Pryer, they were leaving the game in the second quarter when Amabile suddenly decided to slide down the staircase railing. 

Amabile fell about 30 feet and was knocked unconscious. He was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center in New Brunswick, N.J., where he remained.

Authorities wouldn’t comment on the extent of his head injuries.                              


BMX Biker TJ Lavin Remains In Medically Induced Coma After Accident


Posted on 18th October 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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 MTV “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” host TJ Lavin remained in a medically induced coma in a Las Vegas hospital Monday, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Lavin is recovering from head injuries he received Thursday in an accident while he was trying to qualify for the BMX Dew Tour Championships. The 33-year-old was wearing a helmet when he fell and was knocked unconscious. He sustained brain injury, a right-eye orbital fracture and a fractured right wrist.

Lavin, at University Medical Center, on Saturday was able to move his hands. But his mother reported that he is on sedation “to rest and minimize brain swelling.”   


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.”


Ohio Boy Hit In Head By Line Drive Continues To Make Progress


Posted on 28th July 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Many people who sustain traumatic brain injury make tremendous strides. The human spirit can defy expectations, or the lack of them, as has been the case with young Luke Holko.

On Sept. 2, 2009 Luke was being held by his dad, Chad Holko, watching a minor league baseball game in Niles, Ohio. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers were playing, and 5-year-old Luke and his father were in the front row, by first base, according to a moving story by

You probably have already figured out what I’m about to tell you. Luke got hit full force in the back of his head by a line drive off the bat of player Ben Carlson. According to Fanhouse, Luke’s cerebellum hit his brain stem from the force of the blow. Doctors put Luke in an induced coma for two days.

He was treated at Akron Children’s Hospital for about a month, and then was transferred to the Cleveland Clinic’s children’s rehab center. He was sent back to the Akron hospital Oct. 30 and finally came home, in a small wheelchair, on Nov. 5, according to Fanhouse.

Physicians didn’t want to give Luke’s father and mother Nicole any long-term prognosis for him. Like many traumatic brain injury patients, Luke had to relearn many tasks, such as how to talk again and how to swallow. His hearing may be returning. He has made a lot of progress since being near-death. 

He went from a wheelchair to a walker in mid-January, and starting walking on his own in May.

Luke’s walking is still not steady. He is off balance, because his brain isn’t sending the proper signals to the nerves in his right leg. He has to get four botox injections every few months in his calf-muscle, according to Fanhouse.  

Carlson, the player whose line drive smashed into Luke’s head, came to visit the boy. They spent about four hours playing together, and had a great time, Fanhouse said, adding that Luke cried when Carlson left.

Here’s wishing that Luke’s progress will continue.

New York Cop Survives,Tries To Move On After Brain Injury From Accident

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Posted on 24th July 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Carlos Olmedo, a police officer in Brooklyn, has had an almost miraculous recovery from a horrendous accident that left him with traumatic brain injury in May.

Olmedo, 31, was chasing down several suspected car thieves in Bensonhurst in the early morning May 16 when he was hit by a motorcycle, according to a profile of him Friday in the New York Daily News.

 The young cop says he was thrown 40 feet in the air and landed on his left side. He sustained severe brain injury and was in a coma for 11 days, clinging to life. When Almedo finally regained consciousness, he learned the seriousness of his injury and understood that his recovery would not be easy. At first, he didn’t even remember his infant son.

According to the News, Almedo prayed for a miracle. He was in the hospital for 2 1/2 months, and has made steady progress.

At this point the police officer has undergone brain surgery, and has a dent in the left side of his head “the size of a fist,” according to the News. Physicians have grafted part of his skull bone onto his stomach, and they will reattach that piece of bone to Omedo’s skull this month. 

The police officer, who also had his ankle crushed in the accident, isn’t back to his old self, but is happy to be alive. Olmedo has some memory loss and his speech is slurred a bit, The News reported.  

 The cop returned to his old stationhouse last Thursday, about two months after his near-fatal accident, where he was greeted by his collegues and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. It was a hero’s welcome. 


Baseball Player, Beaned By 93-MPH Ball, Sues MLB, Helmet Maker

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Posted on 21st July 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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An up-and-coming baseball player who was hit in the head with a 93-mph fastball has filed suit against Major League Baseball and his helmet’s manufacturer, according to the New York Post. As in many traumatic brain injury cases, it’s a tragic story.

Jordan Wolf , 25, was playing for the Baltimore Orioles Class A farm team when the accident took place. In 2008 Wolf was beaned in the head. He suffered a skull fracture that went from his ear to the top of his cranium, according to the Post. 

The young player with lots of promise got a brain hemorrhage. He can no longer speak and his has no feeling on the right side of his body. His baseball career is over.

In addition, Wolf has now been diagnosed with epilepsy and has had a number of seizures, the Post wrote.

In his suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, Wolf is asking for unspecified damages from Rawlings sporting goods and MLB. He alleges that they failed to make sure he had enough protection while he was playing.