Health Matters: The Long Road Back from Brain Injury

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - On her way home, a local woman found her husband's motorcycle in the middle of a road. She found him lying in a nearby ditch. He had suffered fractures and a severe brain injury.

Months later he's still recovering and on a different road, working to improve his communication skills.

With a bit of music theory, Gordon Diffee "strums" his way to "fine-tune" his memory.

"They set me on fire and really made me work on what I needed to do," explains the brain injury patient.

The sound is striking a chord with Gordon, two months after his motorcycle accident. Like any other time he would ride, Gordon wasn't wearing a helmet.

"It was a dumb idea. I've done it most of my life," he admits.

Since then, Gordon has been working with the brain injury team at the Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute, to improve his speech skills. Part of the work can be done using an iPad, where he sometimes runs into roadblocks identifying certain types of foods on the screen.

Brain Injury Medical Director Rani Lindberg says they use technologically-advanced systems to stimulate different areas in the brain.

"Robotics, a lot of virtual reality with our patients,  including game stations like Xbox and Playstation," she says.

They also offer mobility and self-care training, as well as other forms of therapy.

"They showed me a pen. And I could not for the life of me say what it was," Gordon says.

He couldn't identify a pen, but what makes Gordon's recovery so remarkable? He hasn't missed a string, or note in his music therapy.

"It keeps it working, it keeps it moving," he continues.

On March 28, there will be a Survivors Day Celebration to honor and empower survivors of traumatic brain injuries. It's free and offers sessions on PET therapy, music therapy and helpful apps.

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