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Pictures of recovery: Brain injury victims making art

The brain injury victims featured in a recent newspaper article each have a unique story of how they were injured. The stories have common threads, however, including a drastic, unexpected change in their lives and a long, difficult recovery afterwards made easier by creating works of art.

A couple of people suffered their injuries in car accidents, another had an aneurysm, while another had a brain tumor that doctors said would kill him within a month -- a dire prognosis issued more than a decade ago.

The people and their stories are far from us in La Crosse, but they resonate across the miles from eastern Massachusetts.

Their injury stories are as varied as their artwork, which ranges from drawings to paintings to photography.

One woman was driving on a summer day when her car was hit from behind and shoved into oncoming traffic. The resulting injuries were devastating: her neck was broken and she suffered a brain injury. After a month in a coma, she woke up to find she was a quadriplegic.

Physical therapy has allowed her to regain some movement in her arms. One thing she has never lost is a positive attitude: "I've been improving all along," she said. "I'm constantly improving."

She pushes ahead with creative pursuits that include writing (she has penned a memoir) and painting.

"I just have to choose joy," she said.

Another woman was in a tragic car accident just over 20 years ago. In the crash, her nine-year-son was killed, her older son suffered broken bones and a traumatic brain injury. She, too, sustained a brain injury after smashing head-first through the windshield (despite the fact that she was wearing a seatbelt). She then spent five months in a coma.

She had to learn to walk and talk all over again.

She also had to learn to draw; a skill that sharpens her coordination and mind as she continues her recovery.

Source: Wareham Week, "Brain injury survivors' artwork exhibited at Y," Jaime Rebhan, July 2, 2012

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