Healing Heads Foundation
Tyson Ward's Story
February 20, 2020
Back in June 2010 I was in a severe boating accident that hands down should have left me dead. My dad and I's boat had a head on collision with another bass boat while both of us were going full speed. The other boat came up on top of our boat and crushed my Dad and I. Thankfully, they slid off the back of our boat and ripped the motor off or else ours would have immediately sunk easily killing my dad and I.
Immediately after this collision, I was out cold. Unconscious, not moving, not breathing. Nothing.
Miracles upon miracles upon miracles got me to the hospital. I was taken to a trauma unit that night where everyone there worked and worked just to keep me alive. Everyone there thought they were keeping me comfortable until my injuries got the better of me and I'd pass. But I never did.
3 weeks go by and I'm still hanging on so they say I'm stable enough to get transferred to a hospital that will perform therapies to help pull me out of the coma. I've been told while I was there therapists would come into my room with these giant structures used to support me and lift me out of my bed. Once I was in the air they would move my legs like I was walking and they'd tell my family that doing motions I was used to was one way they'd help pull me from my coma.
I was at this hospital for about 6 weeks. They were consistently making me do a variety of therapies, all that were done with the purpose of hopefully helping me out of my coma. After 6 weeks they approached my mom and told her they had done everything they could, and that unfortunately I was never going to improve.
They told my mom to start looking for a nursing home that was willing to house me, which broke my mom's heart. Fortunately for everyone, a hospital in Atlanta reached out to my mom because there was a reconstructive surgery I needed that a doctor there was looking to perform; and I was a perfect candidate.
My mom agreed, because she didn't know what else to do with me, so I got transferred to Atlanta. The surgery was performed, and then to recover I was actually sent to the Shepherd Center which is a rehab facility specially catering to stroke & brain injury victims. I'm told they continued doing a lot of the same therapies they were doing with me at my old hospital. Like walking, even putting me in front of a mirror and feeding myself while moving my hands so it was like I was feeding myself.
For several weeks, they got the same results as the previous hospital which was depressive for everyone. But then on September 17, I fully woke up from my coma. I did nothing but ask questions about everything, and try to comprehend why I couldn't do anything I used to be able to do.
Immediately after waking from the coma, I was put into every kind of therapy they could. It was here that I learned I could literally do nothing for myself. I couldn't stand, I sure couldn't walk, I couldn't dress myself, I couldn't feed myself, I couldn't clean myself, I thought I could talk - but it was a shot to the gut when a therapist asked me to yell as loud as I could. So I did, and she let me know I was as loud as her normal talking, which reaffirmed that I couldn't do anything like I used to.
The next 6 weeks were filled with every kind of therapy there is. I was involved in several speech therapies a day to strengthen my voice, I did a couple physical therapies a day to try and begin to build my deteriorated muscles from the last 3 months, loads of occupational therapies to learn how to be a self sustaining human again - brushing my teeth, taking a shower, how to use a restroom - everything you'd possibly take for granted I had to learn again. I knew nothing.
The end of October I was released from this hospital, but only on the condition we'd live in an apartment they provided and continue outpatient therapy for another 8 weeks. I did, and it felt like a bunch of the same stuff I'd been doing in the hospital, but by golly I was starting to get a little better at things. More physical, more speech, more occupational, more psychological, so much more I can't even remember all I did.
I returned home at the end of the year, came back to Nashville, had a few more surgeries, and kept on with the therapies. I continued this for several months before I was totally released because they were convinced I was as good as I was ever going to possibly be.
There's about a billion more details I could bore you with, but long story short therapy absolutely gave me every bit of the life I have today. Post finishing all my therapies I went back and was able to graduate from college, after graduating college I got married, I got a job that I still work at today and I'm thankful for all that it provides me to do in my life.
In my life I've seen the importance of therapy after a debilitating injury. After seeing all that it did for me and provided me with, I am genuinely 100% behind this organization trying to help provide people with therapies to help improve their lives after injuries and accidents that have an opportunity to ruin their lives.
To anyone who is able, or possibly anyone who has had some of the same circumstances in their lives, please consider donating to this group where every penny you donate will go 100% to helping provide therapy for someone who needs it to help restore their lives.
Stroke survivor turns to art where words fail
September 16, 2018
"Painting is my language when words don't come easily.
Hello, my name is Sophia Salveson and I was born and raised in Nashville, TN. I was a 2011 graduate of Hume Fogg Academy and went on to study art and writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. However, in my second semester of college, I suffered a massive stroke that left me paralyzed on my right side and without the ability to speak or understand language.
After years of arduous therapy, I have returned to my creative roots in the arts. For me, painting is a satisfying form of expression and creativity that doesn’t require the use of language. I usually paint for hours a day and love making paintings that can be given as gifts in the form of cards. I hope you enjoy my creations!"
Support Sophia by purchasing one of her many beautiful cards on Etsy!
September 16, 2018
On September 11, 2013, my father went to the hospital for a routine sinus surgery. By the end of the day, he returned to the hospital having had a massive stroke. We knew that if he survived, he would have a difficult path ahead of him; however, we greatly underestimated the length of time needed for recovery.
My father ended up spending over 100 consecutive days in the hospital with a month of that time in the Intensive Care Unit. He lost nearly all motor function and became completely reliant on the care of others. To see a man go from being so strong and active in his community, to helpless and confined to his bed was heartbreaking. He had to relearn basic functions along with new ways to complete daily tasks. There were some things, though, that he would simply never be able to do again.
Rehab was all the time for him: multiple appointments every day of the week. Everything felt like an experiment. Many of the therapies employed by the therapists were not producing results as quickly as we had hoped. While progress was made, it was slow. My dad’s stroke was very devastating which would require a lot of time to heal, but insurance doesn’t take that into account.
In our circumstances, when insurance ran out, we had the ability to pay for therapy ourselves. Now, just over five years later, we are still seeing progress in my father. Everyday things get easier-- a little bit more normal -- but this is only because he had the opportunity for continued rehab, which so many other stroke survivors do not have.
This is what inspired me to create Healing Heads. I know that stroke is a chronic injury. As such, a stroke survivor needs time to heal and proper therapy during that time. I know that insurance doesn’t pay for enough time, and that for the average stroke survivor, it is too expensive to pay out of pocket for rehab. I feel that every stroke survivor deserves the chance for prolonged therapy, and that financial status should not determine the extent of a stroke survivor’s recovery.