On Could 17, 2014, when then 19-year-old Spencer Dray misplaced management of his automotive and slammed right into a guardrail in Cuyahoga Falls in a one-car accident, his dad and mom have been advised he could not dwell.
If he survived, nobody was certain what sort of life he would have.
Even after 60 days in a coma and time spent in a nursing dwelling, Spencer couldn’t maintain his head up, communicate or transfer the appropriate aspect of his physique as the results of his traumatic mind harm.
On Thursday morning, the now 26-year-old on exited Akron Youngsters’s Hospital, lifted his arms, waved, gave a bow from his wheelchair and advised workers, “I like every certainly one of you,” as they cheered.
Spencer had stopped by the hospital together with his dad and mom to thank his outpatient caregivers for the final 5 years of care.
On Beaconjournal.com: Watch a video of Spencer Dray’s clapout and farewell
“We love you, Spence,” stated Lindsay Ripple, the occupational therapist on the Youngsters’s staff who has labored with Dray, together with bodily therapist Chuck Miller and a staff of different caregivers from a number of departments.
The Drays, who’ve lived in Bathtub for twenty-four years, are shifting to Colorado to be nearer to household and to plan for the following phases of take care of Spencer.
The afternoon of the accident, the roads have been moist and he took a curve on Bathtub Highway in Cuyahoga Falls too shortly.
“I hit a guardrail going 56 miles per hour,” recalled Spencer, a 2012 Revere Excessive Faculty graduate. “I’m fortunate to be alive. Thank God.”
The guardrail went via the windshield, took Spencer’s ear off and precipitated important injury to the left aspect of his mind, which impacted his use of the appropriate aspect of his physique.
“In all probability if it had been a half-inch additional, we wouldn’t be having this dialog,” stated his father, Larry Dray.
Cognitively, Spencer retained an excellent portion of what he discovered in class, stated his mom, Sheren. As his dad and mom have been describing the immense difficulties of preventing their insurance coverage firm to get care, Spencer added that the insurance coverage business “deal with me like I’m cognitively impaired.”
“His mind is there … [his] impulse and judgment is impaired,” his mom stated. “Sooner or later he is perhaps superb doing one thing however you wouldn’t dare belief that will be OK.”
The household needed to thank Spencer’s caregivers earlier than they moved to Colorado.
Larry Dray stated the household didn’t know that at age 19, after Spencer had some world-class remedy at Craig Hospital, a specialty rehabilitation and analysis for folks with spinal harm and mind harm in Colorado, that he might get care at Akron Youngsters’s.
“We’ve had a half a dozen therapists right here,” he stated. “Each single certainly one of them is on the prime of their sport.”
“They’re not solely unimaginable, they’re phenomenal,” Spencer added.
Whereas most of Akron Youngsters’s Hospital conventional pediatric inhabitants “ages out” of care at age 21, some medically complicated sufferers like Spencer get care till they’re about 26, spokeswoman Laurie Schueler stated. The hospital additionally cares for adults in some areas just like the burn unit.
Ripple stated she could be very happy with how far Spencer has come. She has been his occupational therapist, even via COVID, once they needed to transfer to telehealth visits, since April of 2016.
“He was fairly paralyzed after we met him,” stated Ripple. “He was fairly considerably restricted. However since being in remedy and with household carryover of what we ask them to do, these abilities have considerably improved.”
When he first began remedy, he couldn’t costume himself, Ripple stated. He is about 6-foot-2 and 220 kilos, so “that was rather a lot for his dad to need to do day by day.”
“And now he can costume himself and tie his personal sneakers,” Ripple stated.
Larry Dray retired from his job with Omnova Options when the accident occurred to take care of Spencer. He would normally come to the remedy actions, together with getting within the water throughout aquatic remedy, to study what to do and educate Sheren and Spencer at dwelling.
Sheren Dray did “a yeoman’s job” preventing and coordinating with insurance coverage and dealing with that facet of Spencer’s care, her husband stated.
Additionally amongst these offering help has been Sherri Roberts, the social employee at Youngsters’s who Sheren Dray stated was her go-to particular person to get linked to applications and assist.
“She has been a guiding drive and was at all times prepared to assist,” Sheren Dray stated.
Nonetheless making progress
Spencer’s speech is considerably slurred, however when Miller, the bodily therapist, first met him, Spencer had to make use of a machine to sort what he needed to say.
At first, he relied fully on a wheelchair to get round.
However now, although he nonetheless will get transported in a wheelchair or will use it generally, he walks with help from a dad or mum or therapist and makes use of crutches, a walker or a cane. Extra lately, he can stroll on his personal with a security belt, Miller stated.
Miller stated Spencer was motivated and enthusiastic throughout remedy.
“He by no means actually complained about having to go and do it. He at all times knew it was what he needed to do to recuperate and so they might get to a degree the place they might transfer and be extra impartial,” Miller stated. “It was his long-term purpose. The household and him did every little thing of their energy to get to this purpose.”
Miller stated most therapeutic usually occurs inside the first two years, however almost seven years after the accident, “I might argue there’s at all times room to enhance and he won’t ever absolutely heal, however he can at all times make enhancements … I really feel like we proceed to see therapeutic presently.”
The Drays are closing on a brand new home west of Pueblo, Colorado. They’ve already bought their Bathtub home. They plan to be in Colorado by the tip of Could.
Sheren and Larry Dray stated they’re getting older and so they know that Colorado has traumatic mind harm programming the place Spencer can get the identical entry to care as an grownup that he did as a affected person at Youngsters’s.
The transfer additionally will get the household nearer to Spencer’s older brother, Lorcan Dray, who lives in New Mexico.
Spencer is worked up concerning the transfer and stated he needed to maneuver to Colorado earlier than the accident.
“It is bittersweet,” his mother stated. “Now we have heaps and many help locally right here.”
Beacon Journal workers reporter Betty Lin-Fisher will be reached at 330-996-3724 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Observe her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.fb.com/BettyLinFisherABJ. To see her most up-to-date tales and columns, go to www.tinyurl.com/bettylinfisher.