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Reporter discusses helping daughter in aftermath of brain injury

He was just finishing dinner when he got a phone call. A woman asked if he was a certain young woman's father.

The 20-year-old had been in a car accident and had suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was told to go to the hospital; his daughter was in "very critical condition."

The contributor got the call nearly a year ago, in July. He recently wrote about the trials and tribulations his daughter has been through since then; a difficult journey back from a brain injury. He's done his best to be there for her and with her though the struggles, setbacks and triumphs.

After he arrived at the emergency room, he spoke with a doctor there. The man remembers flashes of their conversation: "severe, traumatic brain injury...shearing of white and gray matter...fixed pupils...brain swelling...ventilator."

She'd been riding in a friend's car that rainy day. The friend had tried to make a late-afternoon left-hand turn; an SUV emerged from the fading light and slammed into the passenger side of the vehicle. The man's daughter, though in her seatbelt, had been jolted so hard, her brain slammed against the side of her head. A paramedic who rushed to the scene didn't expect her to last the night.

But she lasted that night and all those since last July, fighting and slowly regaining her physical and mental abilities. It wasn't until January of this year that she began to speak again.

One of the phrases she's said many times since regaining language is perhaps the sweetest combination of words in existence: "I love you." Her father writes that she has made a point since the accident of telling him that many times; "such sweet music to my ears."

He doesn't yet know how many of her goals -- going to college and living independently (with a dog) -- she will achieve on her journey through rehabilitation, but he's grateful that, as he puts it, "I've got my daughter back."

Source: MSNBC, "Bringing Andrea back from brain injury: a father's story," Bill Briggs, June 14, 2012

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