MSNBC recently covered the story of a journalist who banded together with his ex-wife to help support the recovery of their 20-year-old daughter from a traumatic brain injury. The family changed forever when the woman became one of the 1.6 million Americans who suffer from traumatic brain injuries every year.
The journalist’s daughter was a passenger in a friend’s car when it was hit by an oncoming SUV as the friend made a left turn into traffic. The driver sustained a mild concussion, but the journalist’s daughter sustained a severe closed-head brain injury.
“She had a catastrophic injury to her brain,” the daughter’s doctor said. “She had massive bleeding in her brain, internally, in the deep structure of the brain. She was fortunate to survive.”
There are two types of traumatic brain injuries: closed-head and penetrating. Closed-head injuries are very common and occur when a person’s head is violently shaken or struck without being penetrated. Despite the lack of penetration, closed-head injuries can be fatal and often involve dangerous levels of swelling.
The journalist’s daughter experienced severe brain swelling and was in an extended coma. Swelling is a major cause of tissue and neuron damage and can lead to permanent disabilities. Fortunately, the daughter emerged from her coma and was able to begin a long journey to recovery.
To help her recover, the journalist and his ex-wife rented a wheelchair-accessible apartment and traded two-day shifts caring for their daughter. The arrangement allowed both former spouses to be actively involved in their daughter’s recovery while maintaining their careers.
Eleven months after the crash, the daughter has progressed from communicating via cards to talking again and is relearning to walk. It will be some time before she is able to walk and return to college, but with the continued support of her family, she is making daily strides to regain her independence.
The support she has received from both of her parents has also changed her outlook on life and strengthened her bond with them.
“Before the accident, I didn’t really respect them, but now they are there for me,” the journalist’s daughter said of her parents. “I feel like I was reborn as a nicer person.”